Tag Archives: Mobile

ANNOUNCE: City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community (in SF)

Our good friend Kari Gray is helping to create a technology arts festival in San Francisco this year called “City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community“. Kari originally contacted us about Spectropolis, our Wireless Arts festival from a few years ago, wanting to create something similar out on the west coast. What her team came up with is significantly and impressively more than Spectropolis was, while keeping the core goals of wireless technology and community engagement (leave it to a San Franciscan to one-up us on these concepts!).

There’s an open call for projects, and we think everyone should submit something to the festival. NYC has a lot of innovative, creative, artistic nerds and nerdy artists, and more representation of our great city in SF can only be a good thing!

Recent exhibitions, festivals and conferences across the US and in Europe have taken wireless networks, public space, locative media and urban environments as sites of intervention, creativity, and critique. Formulated within the emerging context of networked urbanism and mobile media, City Centered: A Festival of Locative Media and Urban Community will focus upon dynamics of the shifting, locative, cartographic and social space of the city. It is organized by educational, arts, community-based and civic organizations and asks how locative media can act as a platform and venue for community-led expression.

From within San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, this festival will celebrate the rich possibilities that art and technology offer for urban communication of place and place-based media. City Centered focuses on the use of locative media and wireless technologies for site-specific and neighborhood-based interventions. Artists, designers, architects, community and cultural workers –people, places, and devices — will meet for four days of street-side celebration, public exhibitions, a symposium, and workshops. The festival seeks new work aligned with the themes of creative mapping, urban storytelling, sentient space, body awareness, local history, contested spaces and gaming.

The festival’s main goals are:

  • to promote creative public use of free wi fi and open networks in the city of San Francisco
  • to encourage meaningful collaboration between artists and local organizations in connection with wireless networks
  • to introduce site-specific locative media art to urban places

    PluggedIn NYC: Mobile and Social Media Summit on January 12, 2010

    Members of NYCwireless have been invited to participate in PluggedIn, a great social media event on January 12, 2010. Be sure to register and use discount code “plugged”!

    PluggedIn is a mobile and social media summit, bringing together handpicked media, advertising, social media and mobile executives and gatekeepers. The event is designed to facilitate knowledge sharing, relationship building and deal making. See 25 companies present and talk about what they are doing and what they look to achieve in 2010.

    Participating companies include: Klout, Tweetphoto, Tweetfeel, Movoxx, Flyscreen, AppsSavvy, and many more.

    PluggedIn is run by Founders Roundtable, a digital media networking company focused on leveraging relationships to help startups succeed. The reason for PluggedIn is the frustration with typical industry conferences which are overcrowded and lack the intimacy and cut-to-the-chase attitude required for in-depth dialogue and true relationship building.

    NYCwireless on Advertising Age: Chasing Mobile Audiences Beyond Phones

    I was asked to sit on a panel last Thursday about “THE FOUR SCREENS: Everything you had no idea you needed to know but were afraid to ask!” by my friend Bill Sobel at SobelMedia. My fellow panelists represented a great variety of old and new media expertise, and I brought some mobile knowledge to the table:

    What comes after television, the internet and mobile is what has been commonly referred to as the fourth screen. But what is the deal with all these screens. What are they, why are they important and what do we as producers, designers, technologists and marketers need to know?

    • SCREEN 1: Traditional Broadcast and Cable Television starring Steve Ronson: EVP/AETN (A&E Television Networks)
    • SCREEN 2: Desktop, Laptop and computers starring Lance Podell: CEO/NextNewNetworks
    • SCREEN 3: Wireless and Mobile starring Dana Spiegel: Executive Director of NYCwireless
    • SCREEN 4: Digital out-of-home advertising and everything else starring Michael Kogon: Founder and CEO/Definition6

    The panel was picked up by Advertising Age: Chasing Mobile Audiences Beyond Phones:

    http://assets.adage.com/podcastvideos/3min122209.m4v

    Although they get all the press, phones aren’t actually the only devices that make up our rapidly expanding world of mobile communications. Laptops and portable game consoles are also being widely used by on-the-go consumers. And companies like Yahoo and Google are paying close attention to that. Both sponsored expansive free wifi services for the holidays. Yahoo’s blanketed Times Square, while Google’s took to the airports and skies beyond.

    The Day The Telco Blinked

    It happened so fast you may have missed it.  Late last week AT&T posted a change to its mobile data plan that indicated it would start throttling down peer-to-peer sharing.  This would affect phone-call apps like Skype. Within a day, after public outroar from customers like you, they apologized and retracted it.

    Sound familiar?

    First, yes, it’s similar to what happened at FaceBook–a company tries to pull something onerous, only to retract it after consumers find out.  That said, Facebook is a small, agile company.  This is AT&T, one of the most intractable telcos out there.  Historically it’s taken years of work in court to get AT&T to change its ways.

    Second, it’s another battle in the fight for an Open Internet.   Last year, Comcast tried to throttle regular peer-to-peer applications like Skype, and the FCC called them on it. AT&T was mucking with its mobile data plan, but the motive is the same–force people to use the carrier’s more expensive services rather than letting them get their work done.

    What AT&T and Comcast should be realizing is that this type of throttling is now on the wrong side of the economic debate.  An Open Internet keeps us productive and competitive.  Skype lets people make cheap phone calls.  Video sharing lets people do web-conferences.   Efforts to stifle communications strike at the heart of America’s productivity and competitiveness in the world.

    The fight continues. Follow the story and let your representatives know this matters to you.  An Open Internet will ensure we can all get our work done and succeed.

    BREAKOUT! Festival in Fall 2009

    The Architectural League of New York has chosen BREAKOUT! Escape from the Office as one of the big exhibition pieces for their “Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City” in 2009.

    NYCwireless is one of the key team members of BREAKOUT!, and Anthony Townsend (one of our co-founders) is chairing the exhibit. The rest of the board (including me!) will be heavily involved in making this exhibition a reality.

    Over a two week period, BREAKOUT! will return creative work to the streets of New York. Using co-working as a model, and injecting lightweight versions of essential office infrastructure into urban public spaces, BREAKOUT! will explore new and productive niches for working outside of traditional office buildings. As the 21st century moves towards a knowledge-based economy, conventional office spaces are becoming obsolete; people no longer need to co-locate in order to access shared tools and resources. BREAKOUT! seeks to create a new architecture for the creative city by appropriating public spaces for collaborative knowledge work.

    To find out more about why we are doing this, read the FAQ. For more background on the architectural and organizational design  concepts we’re playing with, check our our BREAKOUT! Prezi (thanks to the team at Kitchen Budapest for this awesome Powerpoint killer).

    A whole bunch of stuff about our social collaboration tools is in the works and will be posted in a month or so.

    We are looking for groups in cities around the world to host local BREAKOUT! festivals and meetups during September 2009. More details will be posted soon.

    Key team members:

    • Anthony Townsend (Research Director, Technology Horizons Program, Institute for the Future)
    • Georgia Borden (Associate Director, DEGW)
    • Tony Bacigalupo (co-founder, CooperBricolage)
    • Sean Savage (co-founder, PariSoMa)
    • Dana Spiegel (Executive Director, NYCwireless)
    • Dennis Crowley (founder dodgeball.com)
    • Laura Forlano (Kauffman Fellow in Law, Information Society Project, Yale Law School)

    BREAKOUT! is being presented as part of the exhibition, “Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City,” curated by Mark Shepard and organized the Architectural League of New York.  For more information about the exhibition and related projects, visit www.situatedtechnologies.net.

    NYCwireless Testimony for NY City Council Hearing: The Regulation and Use of the Unallocated Portion of the Radio Spectrum, Also Known as White Spaces

    This is the testimony that I gave and submitted to the NY City Council:

    NYCwireless New York City Council Testimony on White Spaces (pdf)

    NYCwireless Testimony to the New York City Council
    Regulation and Use of the Unallocated Portion of the Radio Spectrum, Also Known as White Spaces

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the New York City Council and friends and guests, thank you for inviting me to speak. My name is Dana Spiegel, and I am the Executive Director of the non-profit NYCwireless, which builds free, public Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces throughout New York City.

    I come today not to talk about the FCC’s plans or the facts about white space devices. I also will not speak about Broadway and Off-Broadway, which is an important cultural resource for this great city. Nor will I speak about the company Shure and other wireless microphone manufacturers, who have admitted to spreading false information about the impact of white space devices on existing equipment. Other presenters here today will speak extensively about these subjects.

    I wish to speak solely about the value of such white space devices for all of New York City, and draw some parallels to a similar technology, Wi-Fi, and its history. I believe there are enough similarities between white space devices and Wi-Fi that we can draw some realistic conclusions about what might actually happen when white space spectrum becomes available.

    Wi-Fi uses radio frequency spectrum covered under the FCC’s Part 15, which allows companies to manufacture and sell certified devices that operate in the 2.4Ghz frequency range, and allows anyone to purchase such devices and operate them without applying for an FCC broadcast license. If you use Wi-Fi in your home, office or park, you are using a Part 15 device. The same goes for bluetooth headsets used with mobile phones, and baby monitors, garage door openers, and some cordless phones.

    The precursor to 802.11 technology was invented in 1991, and since then has enjoyed tremendous success. You’d be hard pressed to find a computer user today who hasn’t used Wi-Fi at some point. But it was never imagined to be such a ubiquitous or widely used technology. It was always originally expected that Wi-Fi devices would be used in large office buildings only, and consumer use was never considered.

    In 2000, in New York and a few other cities like Boston and Seattle, technologists started to use the Wi-Fi devices to do the unimaginable: share the internet with their neighbors. NYCwireless was founded in 2001 with the pioneering purpose of using this technology to broadcast internet access to local neighborhoods. One of the first public hotspots in the world was in our own Tompkins Square Park.

    Back then, devices were neither easy to use nor cheap to purchase for consumers. If you had a laptop, you could buy a Wi-Fi card and access point each for a few hundred dollars. But if you went to Tompkins Square Park or Bryant Park, you could do something that no one else in the world could do: sit under a tree and surf the internet.

    Since 2000, New York City has seen dozens of parks lit up by NYCwireless and others, and each year more parks and public spaces are brought online. New York City was host to the first ever wireless arts festival, called Spectropolis, in 2003 and 2004, held in City Hall Park. NYCwireless and others have lit up dozens of affordable housing residences, providing residents the ability to get online and have a critically important lifeline. None of these achievements would have been possible without the FCC enabling the free, unlicensed use of the 2.4Ghz spectrum range.

    But even more impressive than these achievements has been the explosion of Wi-Fi usage throughout New York City. Just about every business, both big and small, makes use of Wi-Fi. Cafés, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops offer Wi-Fi to their customers, and a significant percentage of the over 8 million residents in this city use Wi-Fi in their homes.

    With all of these people using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you don’t often hear about interference issues. Just about everyone makes use of Wi-Fi in their homes and businesses without issue. Bluetooth headsets work everywhere you walk. Baby monitors and cordless phones, devices that use the same tiny sliver of 2.4Ghz spectrum, work just fine too.

    With all of its success, its surprising that Wi-Fi is in part utterly unlike the types of devices that the FCC is considering for use of white space frequencies. The biggest difference is that the proposed FCC rules for white space devices ensure they won’t interfere with existing spectrum users, and that devices will contain technology to move around the white space spectrum to ensure that they never interfere. These tested devices have successfully proved that such technology is achievable, as have Bluetooth devices which contain similar intelligence.

    In discussing this history of Wi-Fi, and highlighting its achievements, I hope to paint a picture for the Council about what white space devices may mean for New York City. Such devices have the possibility of enabling larger scale internet broadcast, providing inexpensive or free access to whole neighborhoods from the central anchor of a park. More buildings will be able to be retrofitted with internet access, a current challenge for a number of older NYCHA buildings. Schools and libraries will become internet hubs for their neighbors. In short, the amazing things we’ve done with Wi-Fi will be amplified with the availability of white space devices.

    The FCC already has proposed white space device rules in place that ensure non-interference. Indeed, New York City, and Broadway (who makes use of Wi-Fi in their theaters to provide internet access to stage and production staff), stand to benefit enormously from white space devices, even while continuing to use their existing technology. Imagine if, instead of just using wireless microphones for audio, we could have videos of performances could be broadcast and entire neighborhoods could participate in such events.

    Additional Reading
    New America Foundation Wireless Future Program
    Free Press, White Spaces: Bringing the Internet to Everyone
    GigaOm: 1 and 2
    People’s Production House

    Follow Up from NY:MIEG Event — Wireless, Wimax & Mobile 2008 and Beyond: The Future of Communications

    Laura and I had a lot of fun talking on the panel at the NY:MIEG event Wireless, Wimax & Mobile 2008 and Beyond: The Future of Communications. We talked about Wi-Fi, WiMax, and Cell networks, as well as devices and content. Laura talked about her research about how people use hotspots. Needless to say, lots of people are interested in wireless technologies, and especially handhelds and Wi-Fi hotspots.

    For those of you that missed the panel, it was recorded and will be posted online.

    A few people live-blogged the panel, and there was lively discussion for quite some time after the panel was over: