Posts Tagged ‘Place’

After a while from posting, I could not but comment on the recent announcement of Facebook launching Places on their acquisition of start-up “Hot Potato”.

Having tried the FourSquare service a few weeks ago and finding that some bloke two villages away was “Mayor” of our local cafe, and cycling shop, I gave up.  It might work in urban areas – but in the country the idea seemed daft.  To me, anyway.  The blogs are all spinning with questions about FourSquare’s survival.

Yet now we have Facebook Places, it is pretty clear that to be successful, you will have to put your app on this new platform to get the reach that Facebook offers.  For me this is a problem solved.

“You can immediately tell people about that favorite spot with Facebook Places,” said Places product manager Michael Eyal Sharon.

“You can share where you are and the friends you’re with in real time from your mobile device.”

Facebook members can “check-in” at restaurants, bars, or other social venues and let their friends at the social network instantly know where they are and with whom.

A Places application for iPhone handsets was released, and social network members with smartphones with Web browser software that supports geo-location and HTML5 could use Places at the mobile website touch.facebook.com.

I expect that now things will develop rapidly.  With the popularity of Farmville (more users than Twitter) and the possibilities of bringing places into games, the opportunities of blending local marketing schemes and even local currencies linked to your mobile phone all becomes possible.

However, my concern is that most of the innovation and the platforms that own the new location-based social media gaming platforms all appear to be in the US.  Europe had its chance with the mobile industry – but this new applications-centric world is beyond their corporate ken.  Which means that the UK and Europe may well slip behind in exploiting the new business models and job creation that is so vitally needed to get out of the recession.

That said, the UK still has a vibrant games creation industry and there will be opportunities to develop on top of Facebook’s Places to reach a global marketplace.  So not everything is gloomy.

How neat it would be if we could keep the currency (and value) of the internet gaming industry WITHIN the actual community that the games players are playing in.  Otherwise this new development will simply continue the erosion of communities of place to the useful but often abstract clouds-in-the-sky of communities of interest.

Excerpts in italics from:  “Facebook grabs Hot Potato mobile check-in startup” by Glenn Chapman (AFP)


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The method of loci is ancient. Cicero, the Roman orator, recommended it. Lecturers in his day were not allowed to use lecture notes, so memorization techniques were valued.

Cicero told a traditional story about how the method of loci was discovered. A Greek poet named Simonides was entertaining a group of wealthy noblemen at a banquet. Suddenly a pair of mysterious figures called him outside. They turned out to be messengers from the Olympian gods Castor and Pollux, praised by Simonides in his poem. As soon as Simonides stepped outside, the roof of the banquet hall collapsed, squashing everybody inside. The mangled corpses could not be identified until Simonides stepped forward, pointed to the place where each victim had been sitting, and said each name in turn.

How did Simonides accomplish this feat? He mentally recreated the scene of the banquet, visualizing each reveler in his place. When he saw the places, it helped him remember the person who had been sitting there.

Story of Simonides from: Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey

To use the method of loci, bring to mind a familiar building, such as your house.
Take a moment to conduct a mental walk through the rooms in your house.
Pay particular attention to the details , noticing any imperfections, like scratches: anything that makes your mental images more vivid.
Make sure you can move easily from one room to another.
Along your route create a list of “loci” – i.e. well defined parts of the room that you can use later to memorize things.
A locus can be a door, a bed, an oven, etc.
Be sure that you can easily go from locus to locus as you visit the house.
Now, when you are faced with a list of words or ideas to be memorized, you must form visual images for each of the words and place them, in order, on the loci in your route.
To recall the words or ideas now you take a mental walk throughout your house, asking yourself , “What is on the living-room door? What’s on the sleeping room bed. What’s in the oven?” And so on.
Associating the words or ideas to remember with the loci, you should create surprising images.
More striking is the created image, more easily you will remember the thing.

More fascinating facts on the Method of Loci can be found at:  http://www.ba.infn.it/~zito/loci.html

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Imagine a world where all the bus companies own and maintain their own roads and only busses can travel on those roads.  In the same world the the taxi-drivers also own and maintain their own (separate) road system.  Oh, and the council own their own roads, too – for their dustbin lorries (garbage trucks) and other municipal vehicles.  The land-owners also have their own private roads across their estates – but charge transit rates to the other road owners who cross their land.
This all sounds pretty impractical, doesn’t it?  Yet this is the exactly the system that we currently have in the Telecoms industry – with each of the carriers owning their own ducts, poles, cables, networks and exchanges.
Interestingly, Korea is often cited as leading the world in the roll-out of fibre optic broadband.  The picture below is from Seoul in Korea.  Maybe they havn’t got it quite right either!

And here is another mess of wires from Bangkok:
We are now at a proverbial cross-roads in deciding how to rollout the next generation of telecommunications networks.  The old structures, which have served us well in the past, are under significant pressure with the rise in demand for internet services.
A renewed mandate for more regulation to ensure competition is not the answer!  The next generation networks of the telecoms industry are now far more intimately connected to the rest of the economy.  Electricity companies want their own fibre-optic road system to monitor household meters.  Media companies want the equivalent of their own fibre-optic road system to carry the new channels of news, sports, gaming and entertainment .  And the Telecoms companies also want to upgrade their networks to provide faster and faster bandwidth to businesses and higher-use consumers.  Overlay the rise of the demand for internet and data services from mobile operator and the picture becomes similar to the very impractical picture that we outlined at the beginning of the article with the road transport system.
Given that about 70% of the cost of a telecoms network goes into digging a hole and filling it in again, the majority of the cost of building-out underground telecoms networks is, literally, a sunk cost.  The leaps in fibre-optic technology have been matched by the innovation in the physical ducting industry that produces the pipes that will carry and protect those fibres.  It is now possible to lay a pipe a little over 2.5cm (or 1 inch) in diameter that will contain 20 micro-ducts.  Each micro duct can contain a fibre that will ship the whole of the information in the British Library to California in less than a second!  The economics of the old copper network are truly dead.  It is time for a radical re-think on how we create the multi-service local access networks of the future.  The diagram below shows how multiple services can be laid in a single trench.  This is surely the way to go!
Res Locus believes that it is time for local municipalities to enforce the laying of  a SINGLE OPEN NETWORK OF DUCTS AND POLES that will carry the fibre optic distribution networks of the future.  Current (often sparse) records of existing networks and termination points (from incumbent network owners such as BT and Virgin Media in the UK) should be updated in a single place and properly maintained.  When practical, the local council should be allowed to take over the ownership of these ducts and poles and then give access to multiple service providers who want to provide fibres or wavelengths of light within the fibres to others.  Investment should be encouraged in new-style telephone exchanges which should allow easy remote access and configuration for multiple service providers.
The supply-side of the industry won’t like the scheme.  They have long enjoyed providing five pieces of equipment to “competitive” operators when one or two would have been sufficient.  It was for this reason that the telecoms bubble of 2000-2001 made the industry move from order to near collapse.  We all learnt from that experience.  The time has come to join up our local communities with a single, efficient network of fibre that serves both local businesses, households AND local public services as well as the commercial service providers such as businesses, ISPs, mobile operators, electricity companies and media companies that want to put their “vehicles” over the new highways.
The old-fashioned National regulators won’t like the idea much either.  However, in a way, they have done their job and it is time for them to move out of the way!  It is time to remove the private road ownership and the toll booths and design a new system that will creates a far more efficient way to run local transport services from any service provider.
With local support, local initiative and local innovation, it will take much less than the 10-15 years that traditionalists say it will take to wire-up Britain.  The UK’s Conservative Party seem to be moving in the right direction here with their recent Open Source Planning initiative as well as their ambitious plans to wire-up Britain by 2017.  Res Locus believes that even the Conservatives are being under-ambitious.
Surely it is time for local communities to take ownership of the planning and provisioning of holes and poles so they can compete effectively in the emerging hyper-competitive global economy of the 21st Century.
Picture of cable mess in Korea from: 40 of the most disastrous cable messes

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Connect with Place

is one of a number of contributions

for you to muse over at the beginning of this New Year

in the following dowloadable PDF:



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