Friday, January 31, 2014

Homer Simpson Uses Locative Media

I was watching this week's episode of the The Simpsons with my kid. I've loved this show since its first season (when I was still young) and now enjoy it with my kid - yeah the show's been on that long - 25 years (not including when I watched it on the Tracey Ullman Show).

So I was particularly excited when the episode covered my research topic - annotative locative media.

In the episode, Mr. Burns gives all his employees augmented reality glasses, 'Oogle Goggles', to spy on them. The glasses provide a wealth of information. Homer and Marge become enamoured of using them throughout their daily lives. Of course, hilarity ensues. Seven minutes into the episode, Homer uses his glasses outdoors and discovers factoids about his world - from his lower than Flanders' house value to the disgusting ingredients of a Krusty Burger.

As they leave their house, Homer states "Now a simple Sunday drive will reveal the hidden wonders of our hometown!" This has been my thesis statement for the last few years!!!

As Homer drives around Springfield he passes their city hall, which is annotated with facts. Homer recounts them to his family, noting "it was built for the Spencer Tracey film 'Meet Me at City Hall'. It was just a flat wall with nothing behind it for 30 years." Exactly the type of commentary that only locative media can provide!

The full episode is on YouTube (in a bizarre different dubbed version) - but it probably won't be for long.

Slate has a good review of the episode, noting its central message:
the underlying commentary is about how wearable computers like Google Glass can erode human interactions, especially in person. The characters get so absorbed in information from their devices that they miss things about what's happening in real life, right in front of them.
Although this is the point of the episode (along with the attraction and problems of surveillance), I don't necessarily agree with it. More research is uncovering how mobile social and locative media are connecting us more meaningfully to the people and places around us. That wouldn't be as funny though.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Waning Interest in Blogging

I'll be honest 2013 was my best year for blogging. I have to admit that I've lost a lot of my enthusiasm for blogging. Last year was my least productive blogging year in 5 years.

I started the year out okay; 1/4 of my blog posts I did in the first two months of 2013.  Part of my lack of enthusiasm comes from both a lack of time and a waning interest in expressing my thoughts on this topic.

So I started another blog to have fun showcasing my postcard collection, entitled The Deltiology Deity. Having a new topic energized my blogging and I did 164 blog since launching the blog in mid February.  But even my interest in this blog has been waning.

I'm still interested in blogging when something special happen. For example, it was fun blogging last year about my experiences with my daughter and her new digital media toy or our geocaching adventures.  But otherwise, I find the best I can muster is reposting content I wrote for other reasons.

One of the main reasons for loosing interest in blogging is the time commitments it takes. It also doesn't help that there is no financial motivation to blog. Like many blogs, I don't tend to get many comments on my blog posts - so it hasn't exactly lead to any good discussions.

I think my efforts might be better spent on other things - such as academic publications and presentations or anything that provides monetary support.

So are there still benefits to blogging?

Any tips for how to reinvigorate one's interest in blogging? Any tips on how to stick with it and find regular inspiration?

Friday, January 03, 2014

My Favourite Webslinger Posts of 2013

Per my annual tradition, I look back on my posts of the past year and highlight the ones that were my favourite.  Yes, in some months there was only one post and October was a no go, but here are the blog posts from 2013 that I particularly enjoyed.

Geo-Services are a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
This article provided me ample proof that it was a great idea to switch my career focus to locative media and mobile-enabled geo-informatics!

Power of Online Social Mapping
I attended a presentation by the makers of HarrassMap, that uses social media to map locations in Egypt where woman are not safe.  It demonstrates the positive role that geoweb and social media technologies can have to promote change and improve peoples lives.

Milestones in the History of Geo-Locative Services
My exhaustive timeline of the innovations in geo-positioning technology, Internet
mobile computing, geoweb, and graphical interface design that have combined to make locative media / location-based services possible.

Digital Playground/School in Toronto
My daughter and I got to play hooky and attend Toronto's TIFF digital media playground - a day spent playing with cutting-edge digital media and maker tech - so naturally a good time was had by all.

Mobile Priorities: Spectrum, Talent and Much Lower Costs
Backbone Magazine held a special event discussing the future of mobile devices and its increasing socio-political impact and the challenges Canada faces to be globally competitive in this area.

Mobile devices are absorbing the functionalities of more and more other devices, here's my list of them (BTW, last year was the first year I didn't have a wristwatch - as my mobile does the job even better.)

Online Portfolios
An unexpected job offer (didn't take it) made me realize that I needed an online portfolio now.  I experimented with various options, but concluded that a WordPress site was the most expedient and let's my highlights my various professional work.

Putting Locative Technology In Its Sense of Place
I presented an update on my work at an IEEE conference. This blog post covers my findings based on a survey of location-based services users.

My Snapshots of Canada
Using an online map widget and my Flickr geotagged pix, I share my love of the beauty of Canada.

Exploring the World of Geocaching
I finally decided to try my hand on the popular pastime of geocaching.  My daughter's help we used an app that allows us to find secret treasure caches hidden amongst our surroundings.

I Wonder What the App Developers Were Thinking?
Mobile apps and location-based services are maturing and can provide incredibly helpful functionality - but there are still some really pitiful ones that really miss the opportunity to help their customers (and make more money while doing it).

Mobile Apps and Sites Usability Top 10 Tips
This post on ten annoying mobile app usability issues I found has got a lot of visits, demonstrating that there is still great need for improvement in this area.

Digital Media and Toy Play - A Review of My Kid's Christmas Toy
My daughter and I wrote this blog post that reviews the latest and greatest in kid's digital media and physical toys.