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December 1, 2008

Is there a future to mobile? D’uh, yeah

BARCELONA, Spain – In case you’ve not been paying attention, I’m in Barcelona today for Nokia World, which is taking place over the next couple of days, kicking off tomorrow. Of course, when so many thinkers and doers come together in one place, one tends to prepare by brushing up on one’s mobile know-how.

Fortunately, for me, I was recently at the Future of Mobile conference in London and now my brain is overflowing with thoughts, ideas, and new things. With these heightened senses, I found a ton of interesting links related to the future of mobile. I suggest you read on, to top up your brain with what folks are thinking, doing, and grumbling about.

Establish a good foundation
Of course, there’s a lot out there, and my links below are only scraping the surface. But, I have two pals at Yiibu, a mobile design consultancy, who have their pulse on where the fusion of mobile and Web is at and where it’s going. On their site, they’ve been posting pages of links that serve as good resources for those building and designing products for mobile devices. For example, there’s one on mobile Web design best practices and one on mobile stats and analytics.

Drink from the firehouse
I took a ton of notes at Future of Mobile, hoping to write them up here for you. Alas, there are other greater folk who made great summaries and videos of the event, of note, the posts from Tom Hume (extensive summary) and Ewan MacLeod (videos) are great.

Just a note on the conference on my part. The open and honest discussions, without wallowing and whining (you know, complaining about operators), were intense and well grounded in the present, while still pointing to where the industry must go to grow. Despite the economic doom and gloom and “peak phone” rearing its head, folks were positive and excited about the future and our ability to overcome adversity.

Think, think, think
I was sent the links of some interesting sites related to exploring the edges of mobile. One, Digital Nomads, from Dell, is all about how to live the mobile lifestyle. While I think it’s a bit focused on mobile computing, I think it’s a good start to think of the fully-mobile life and what it will take. If you want a sample of what they write about, then read the article about how to disconnect, for when you don’t actually want to nomad about.

Another site, a project at the Royal College of Art in London, is exploring the effect of mobile and social tools on “tribes”, groups of people and societies. This is a quite interesting angle, as mobiles are such personal devices, how will they affect how we work in groups, tribes, communities?

The project runs for the next few weeks, so go and follow their site, full of stories, anecdotes, and interesting insights.

Yes, there are those who helpfully point out our myopia, misdirection, or missing elements. It can be something as simple as a child’s comment, shocking us out of reverie. Children don’t think about their tools, but know them in their bones and reach for whatever they need to get the job done. Likewise, different cultures approach tools in ways that we could not even fathom. Ani, from, writes a great article on Indian demographics and its implications for mobile growth and mobile services (and takes nokia to task for weak PR in such a strong market).

And let’s not forget where we came from. Steve Litchfield, who knows things about Symbian that we have forgotten, wrote up a spec-sheet for a dream Symbian-based mobile device, which happens to be one he has already played with. Fifteen years ago.


And, as final warning, Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo calls for an end to the incomplete and anxious feeling he has with products and services, calling for an end to Beta culture. He feels that he’s being conned into using products that are not ready. Is this a call for “slow development“? Yet, how do we strike a balance between working with users to create new things and releasing finished and polished products and time-to-market?

Anything is possible
I’d like to finish with something absolutely brilliant. Alfi Dennen has been brewing an idea, which he first used with, creating large scale collaborative drawings through coordinates (where there is also some data, such as a photo). Well, Alfi knows that large scale drawings have been around for millennia. With that in mind, Alfie’s latest is Britglyph, taking the idea of large scale, collaborative art to a global scale.

As I remember it, when he first told me about it, he said “enormous digital crop circles”. Now he’s mobilizing a ton of people to go to specific coordinates and upload a picture from there, and stitching those pics into one gargantuan glyph. He’s looking to create the largest ever geoglyph.

And this fun activity starts today. Looking forward to how it turns out.

Image from gotplaid?