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Nokia Enters Social Software
> written 16/03/04. no comments.

In general, the mobile phone uptake has been extremely rapid and widespread. These days you can't travel on a bus with out hearing the mandatory mobile conversation prefix, "I'm on the bus...", something everyone but the mobile phone user finds irritating. Even though such a large number of people own and use mobiles constantly, they aren't very socially aware (by all accounts they are often anti-social). By this I mean they aren't actively doing anything for us except functioning as a mobile telephone. Granted they do digital photographs and text messages nowadays.

I know people who live out of their mobiles. If one was to come across their mobile, a quick flick through their text message inbox, a scan through the phonebook and if the mobile is photograph-compatible, a quick browse through the photograph folder would echo a fairly accurate picture of their life. And yet nobody has done anything useful with this information.

This information (which I know advertisers would find highly valuable) is locked up in proprietary mobile phone formats, stored away, idling. Not doing anything useful.

Now Nokia, has entered into the picture with a little (Windows only! Boo!) application that takes text messages, digital photographs and addition annotated notes and compiles them into a local 'lifeblog' ordered chronologically thus effectively documenting your own life -- that is, if you live out of your phone and as mentioned above some do.

Now what makes this concept even more interesting is the suggestion that this application could be integrated with TypePad to publish the 'lifeblog' to the web. Now side-stepping the moral and social issues for a minute of publishing this sort of personal information straight onto the web; ah forget it, the issues are too big. How could this possibly work? Are you suppose to ask each and every text message correspondent if it's ok to publish their intimate and personal messages onto the open web? Like that is going to work or more importantly, work seamlessly which is the only way it would work in real life anyway. People just won't bother.

Anyway, the idea of using mobile phone metadata in conjunction with a social software application, is, in general, something which is very interesting. It could even open up new avenues for all kinds of useful stuff. Stuff that could work in practise, not just in some Californian geeks head.

For example, FOAF comes instantly to mind. The internal phonebook on a mobile is full of 'foaf:knows' matched up with nicknames and in some cases: address, email and url. Manipulating this sort of data could lead to some really cool social software applications for the desktop and the web. I'm longing for an XML export option for Apple's 'Address Book' application as my ageing mobile phone synchronises with it throughout the day, via Bluetooth (a short range, wireless, radio connection).

Another example that came to mind is Flickr integration. Flickr, for those unaware is a fun social networking application which allows you to chat and swap annotated images; sort of like the child of the swinging relationship between iPhoto, IM and IRC. All of a sudden, pictures that you have taken on your phone become accessible to all your Flickr buddies, all wrapped up in a beautiful Flash GUI.

To the phone makers, all I can say is: please let us use the data -- failing that, at least do something with it, take Nokia's lead.

Social Networking
> written 05/03/04. 3 comments.

People are repeatedly complaining about the currently available social networking services. It seems everyone has an opinion on the subject; generally, that nobody is happy with the current implementations (Orkut, Tribe, Friendster, etc, etc). The security is too lax, the exporting options are too restricting and the "connections" model is crap.

I wonder how long it will be until we see an open source social networking project begin and, how it will fare. The phrase "If you want something done, do it yourself." comes to mind.

Update: Looks like there are some like minded people around. Presenting Slashster (source).