Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Mobile Monday London turned 7 years old this month

Last week, Mobile Monday London turned 7, the review of the un-panel event is now available on the MoMoLondon website. We have seen so much change in that period. A couple of years before we set up MoMoLondon, some of the original founders attempted to start something similar (called foneclub) but timing wasn't quite right. At that time (about 2003 I think) most of mobile was either within the mobile operators, or lots of service providers doing SMS, Ringtones and Wallpapers. There were of course innovators, but the mobile platforms just weren't open enough yet, nor the audience ready for it. Some of the recurring themes of MoMoLondon have been the mobile web, getting your idea out there (marketing etc...), the technical stuff, funding, demoing and payments. Some themes, products, discussions have been consigned to history, interesting ideas for the time, but some have grown and grown during the 7 years. I won't review everything we have ever covered, that is all covered on the blog, but it is nice to say a quick yay \o/ to mark the occasion.

Biting the web that feeds it

It seems the world of social networks is gradually undermining the way people have in the past used web feeds. Is it just me or has everyone just given this powerful mechanism to closed social networks? I think this is a shame, but it is more to do with user experience (or lack of) in the subscribing to these feeds that is helping those bury it. I must be out of touch or something, but I am finding the concept of taking web feeds and viewing them in a friendly article browser a more enjoyable way to view so much content more and more these days. I am thinking of apps/sites such as Xite, Google Reader, Flipboard etc... However, as everyone is so transfixed on providing links through the likes of twitter, it all feels rather broken. Also providing links via URL shorteners sort of breaks the web, if the provider goes away, so do a lot of links. I understand that many content providers need to monetise their content (such as the traditional press) but there has to be a better way than download 20 apps to read your content. I have a feeling we may arrive back to mobile/device friendly web sites that pull in these syndicate feeds and do interesting things with them. I also have a feeling, RSS and Atom may not be flexible enough in their current forms and we will need something that provides more of a back channel other than jumping back to the original website. I am thinking of things like location, more about the author, copyright (like creative commons), some basic authentication/verification for commercial content and so on. If you know of an open standard or effort going on in this area I would love to know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Upcoming Mobile Monday London events

Mobile Monday London has some interesting upcoming events. On January 30th the topic will be Mobile Games, a welcome return to a subject we haven't gone back to for a while. Registration is still open as I write this post, register yourself at on EventBrite. In February, before Mobile World Congress kicks in there is another event on February 13th on Data Driven Mobile Apps (Open Data and more) ... again registration is on EventBrite.

In 2011, I decided to take a back seat on MoMoLondon events and along with Dan Appelquist formed an Advisory Board. I still help out as a volunteer and wherever I can still add value behind the scenes. If you want to sponsor or get involved in a future MoMoLondon event, either contact myself or ideally the organisers Jo Rabin or Stuart Grant ... details over on the MoMoLondon website.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Identity, privacy and preferences

About 6 months ago, I was interested in how non-computer related industries provide information to consumers without confusing them with technical explanations. Good examples of this are in food label regulations and house and electrical product energy certificates. The units of measure are typically hard for a consumer to put into context without deep knowledge of the field. This made me think about how website domain names, SSL certificates and mobile application capability acceptances are communicated with the consumer. There is certainly a lot of meta data available in these areas. However, they are not written or targeted in a way for a consumer to understand and provide context. A good example of this is accessing when web sites, are they trusted, what does the certifcate actually mean, what is encryption and so on. It appears some thought has been put to this in Firefox but there is little or nothing for the user to reference when they don't understand. With the whole web and social media at our finger tips, perhaps this can provide a solution. Also when downloading a mobile application, before you install there are a whole load of things you 'ought' to read before accepting and then installing the app, but of course I doubt many do. If an app will access your contacts, you really ought to be aware of this other than just a bullet point of text somewhere in the T&Cs. So how can this be communicated? How does a user know what something is going to use and when it has been used? I am going to start illustrating some use cases over the next month, to try and open to debate how this could be done, or at least a starting point. I want to do this more in pictures or storyboards than essays of text, this is meant to be a consumers viewpoint of the experience rather than what is in place from a technical point of view. Anyway ... watch this space.