Posts Tagged ‘digital’

The Ubiquitous Digital Map (Abridged)

A lot of great conferences in the UK happen in London. But not all great conferences. For some, you have to travel a little further afield. Maybe to East Anglia. Or more specifically to Norwich, the county town of Norfolk. If you were in Norwich last week, you might have noticed that SyncConf was taking place and I’d been asked by ex-MultiMapper and co-founder of SyncConf, John Fagan to do a talk on something related to maps. How could I refuse?


SyncConf isn’t a maps conference or a geo conference; it’s a tech conference for the city’s tech and startup community. So it seemed to make sense not to go full-on maps nerd for the conference audience but instead look at how we got to the current state of play where the digital map has become ubiquitous. It also allowed me to the opportunity to put a little bit of map porn into a slide deck.

This is how it turned out .. my slide deck and notes follow after the break.

Image Credits: Denise Bradley, Eastern Daily Press.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Read On…

Of Digital “Stuff” And Making Your Personal Interweb History

Back in July, I wrote about Big (Location) Data vs. My (Location) Data, which was the theme for a talk I gave at the AGI Northern Conference. The TL;DR premise behind the talk was that the location trail we generate on today’s interweb is part of our own digital history and that there’s a very one sided relationship between the people who generate this digital stuff and the organisations that aim to make money out of our digital stuff.

Once I’d given that talk, done the usual blog write up and posted it, I considered the topic done and dusted and I moved onto the next theme. But as it turns out, the topic was neither done, nor dusted.

Firstly Eric van Rees from Geoinformatics magazine mailed me to say he’d liked the write up and would I consider crunching down 60 odd slides and 3000 odd words into a 750 word maximum column for the next issue of the magazine.

And then a conversation on Twitter ensued where some people immediately saw the inherent value in their personal location history whilst some people … didn’t.

That conversation was enough to make me go back and revisit the theme and the talk morphed and expanded considerably. Fast forward to this week and I’ve given the talk in its’ new form twice, once at Nottingham University’s GeoSpatial faculty and once at the Edinburgh Earth Observatory EOO-AGI(S) seminar series at Edinburgh University.

Maybe now this topic and this talk is finished and it’s time to move on. But somehow, I think this will be a recurring theme in talks to come over the next few years.

The slides from the talk are below and the notes accompanying those slides are after the break.

Read On…

Farewell Ceefax And Oracle; London’s Gone Entirely Digital

It’s a regular Thursday evening and some things are timeless; the TV transmitter at Crystal Palace is pumping out the mindless fare that is prime time television to London. It’s been doing this for as long as I can remember. Of course, the number of channels have changed a bit; television used to be just three channels … BBC1, BB2 and ITV … when I was growing up. A quick glance at the TV set in the living room shows that the channels now start at 100 and end at 999, though there’s some gaps in that range (and there’s still nothing on that I want to watch).

But something else has changed. Switching the other TV set we have on, the one that isn’t plumbed into Virgin Media’s cable based digital TV service, shows …

… nothing. Because sometime yesterday the Crystal Palace transmitter finally switched off their analogue TV signal for London. It’s digital all the way from now on, whether it’s via cable, via satellite or via the digital terrestrial service that Crystal Palace is still broadcasting.

Something else changed as well. With the analogue switch off, a precursor to today’s broadband and the web as our prime source of information died. Pressing the text button on the TV remote no longer gives us the teletext services, the BBC’s Ceefax and ITV’s Oracle, that were tucked away in a hidden part of the analogue signal since the early 1970’s. A piece of British information technology history is no more.

Thankfully our other TV set is capable of receiving the digital terrestrial service and a quick retune later, sound and vision is restored.

We may be a solely digital household now and Ceefax and Oracle are consigned to being just another page on Wikipedia but at least we can now watch prime time on both TV sets, over the air and over cable …

… which at the time I’m writing this means watching Tracy Emin discussing the London 2012 Olympics on The One Show. I guess they call this progress, but I’d willingly swap Tracy for Ceefax any day.

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Does Location Need Some PR Love?

In an interview with GoMo News earlier this year, I talked about “the Bay Area bubble”, this is the mind-set found in Silicon Valley “where a lot of the products and services coming out seem to think your user will always have a smartphone, and will always have a GPS lock with an excellent data connection”. But does the so called location industry live in its own version of the Bay Area Bubble? Let’s call it the “location privacy bubble” for the sake of convenience.

Last week an article entitled “Can you digital photos reveal where you live?” was posted on the Big Brother Watch blog; pop over there and read it for a moment, it’s only three paragraphs long …

… welcome back. My first thought on reading that article was “well yeah, duuh“. Followed up by the slightly more lengthy thought of “well yeah, duh … of course a geotagged photo can reveal where you live, if you’ve enabled geotagging, if you understand EXIF data, if you’ve uploaded the photo to the internet and if you’ve set the visibility of that photo to public … upload enough photos and sufficient patterns will emerge that should give a good indication of where you live“.

But I’d be willing to bet that most people’s thought on reading that article was much more along the lines of “s**t … I didn’t know that“. For those of us in the location industry, we should sit up and take note of this reaction.

I Love PR

Here on the inside of the location industry it’s relatively easy to dismiss articles such as the Big Brother Watch one. We know enough to make an informed decision on whether the location component of a service is opt in or opt out. With a bit of background research we can even find out whether a service utilises your location in stealth mode, with potentially abusive consequences, such as recent news that some free apps on the Android mobile platform are secretly sharing their location without the user’s knowledge.

With today’s ever changing technology making a level of technical sophistication available to the mass market that would have been unheard of 10 years ago, maybe it’s time for Location to engage the services of a good Public Relations agency to move the visibility and benefits of the location component of services away from the dense legalese of the EULA and away from burying the control of location deep away inside a densely nested set of configuration options.

If we don’t then the first that the majority of the general public will hear of location privacy will be when a story hits the tabloid media, such as when proof of infidelity of a celebrity due to a location based app on their phone is used in a high profile divorce proceedings. And that will be a sad day for all of the location industry.

Photo Credits: DoktorSpinn on Flickr.
Written and posted from the BA Lounge at LHR T5 51.4735445775, -0.487390325)

Footprints (Of the Digital Variety)

One of the things I write about a lot on this blog are the areas of location and online, or digital, identity and how these two areas overlap and sometimes conflict.

I write about this stuff not only because I’m lucky enough to work in both of these areas but I also find them fascinating, compelling and nowhere is this more evident in how individuals and organisations views this arena.

Companies, if they’re foresighted enough, are making major plays in the location field, fuelled by the proliferation of location aware devices (cameras, phones, netbooks and the like) and by the convergence of these devices (I use an iPhone … is it a phone, a camera, a GPS unit, an internet terminal, a computer or some combination of them all?). There’s much value to a company in knowing your customer’s location and how it changes over time. Indeed it’s a truism that it’s much less about where you are now and much more about where you’ve been.

Individuals, if they’re informed enough, know about the plays the companies are making in the location field and  should know how to determine the value proposition that is offered when they give up their location.

There’s a lot of online coverage, some of it shrill and hysterical, some of it downright amusing and some of it in between these two extremes.

But despite the extensive online coverage of this area it’s still a truth that the printed word sometimes carries greater weight than the online equivalent. There’s still something very visceral and real about holding a book in your hand, flipping back and forth through the pages and taking in what message the book is trying to deliver.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a contributor to a book on identity, privacy, trust and the direction of the Web by Tony Fish. My Digital Footprint, explores where next for the net, for the associated business models, who owns your data and how value and wealth will be created. 

The book is about the digital data created from your interactions with electronic devices, such as mobile phones, web PCs and TVs. This data has significant value, when analysed and fed-back, to create services with colour, focus and relevancy for you as a user, as well as to brands, who want to own your whole digital life experience.

Digital footprint data is valuable and is the reason why the ownership of this data class is the Web’s next battleground. The two central ideas which underpin value in My Digital Footprint are: the real-time feedback loop and the role of the mobile device in enriching the value of the data. The ability to get data out of or off a mobile device lends itself to the unique advantage a mobile device has. The book explores how the mobile device once prevailed for the consumption of content and has evolved to enable the capturing of data on what and how we consume and with whom. 

Just like Marmite, some people like the idea of digital footprints and some do not, but, irrespective of personal preference, we all leave digital footprints behind us and they are about much more than just identity. Digital footprints are about where we have been, for how long, how often; with whom and the inter-relationships we formed in getting there. Digital footprints are memories and moments and not your personal identity, your passport, bank account or social security number.

Read this book, either for free online or grab a copy from Amazon and not because I contributed but because if you use the net today, you really need to know about how companies want your location information and about how you can make an informed decision about how to manage and control this.

Photo credit: Paraflyer on Flickr

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