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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 3

Farewell screen
It's the last day of Open Lab and everyone had a chance to sleep in, following the partying from the previous night. I didn't have much time to relax after waking up, though, because I had to pack up. My return flight was scheduled for this evening. Yup, it was totally in-and-out for me.

Today's sessions were kept quite light and easy on the brain. We were treated to three presentations from Nokia representatives, focusing on different areas that Nokia is invested in.

Adam Greenfield
First up was Adam Greenfield with "The Long Here, the Big Now".
  • "Everyware" - all objects and surfaces of everyday life are able to sense, process, receive, display, store, transmit and take physical action on information
  • South Korea closest country/society to incorporate everyware, ubiquitous computing simplified to "u-", e.g. u-Cheonggyecheong - computing networks everywhere, u-City Songdo
  • but need to understand human desire and needs, e.g. how people use their mobile devices
  • no sovereignty of the physical, e.g. person talking on phone and walking in the mall is living his life on the phone, not the mall
  • that which primarily conditions choice and action in the city is no longer about physical environment but networked experiences
  • "Long Here" - layer a persistent and retrievable history over machine-readable data, e.g. Oakland Crimespotting, geotagged pictures
  • "Big Now" - making total real-time space become a present and tangible reality, e.g. hundreds of Twitter streams describing what people are doing in a city, MIT SENSEable City Lab
  • soft wall - networked mechanisms designed to actively deny or delay experiences, e.g. benches that are tilted forward to make it difficult to sit
  • nothing is as interesting about a place as having that information in that place, e.g. Oakland Crimespotting is relevant in Oakland but not elsewhere
  • information processing dissolving in behvaiour, e.g. Hong Kong women swing their purchases instead of tapping their Octopus card in buses and train stations
  • city moves from browsing (passive) to searching (active)

Udo Szabo
Udo Szabo next took the stage to talk about "The Power of WE".
  • power of the collective, i.e. to change people's social and psychological habits
  • connecting people beyond phones, e.g. Ovi
    1. from disconnected to connected, e.g. cameras, GPS
    2. from physical to digital, e.g. phone light, air ticket
    3. from virtual world to physical world, e.g. putting photos online instead of avatars
Finally, Dan Burgess (whose company works with Nokia) moderated an eco-workshop.
  • carbon - 50 million acres of forest destroyed - equivalent to 18-25% of global carbon emissions
  • water - 3,000 gallons of water to feed a cow for a burger
  • waste - one-third of world's resources have been consumed in the past 40 years
  • 4 things that can play in the quest for sustainable future:
    1. creativity, e.g. inspire / entertain people about ecological matters
    2. stimulate environmental consciousness, e.g. Watson, a box that displays electricity use
    3. communities, e.g. Freecycle
    4. power of collective, e.g. Carrotmob
  • Group 1: Energy
    • people are lazy
    • passive technology, e.g. house switches off sockets when you leave house
  • Group 2: Transport
    • GPS to find passengers for car pool
    • reduce packaging to reduce transportation
  • Group 3: Waste
    • phone recycling
    • life-long phones
    • mobile technology for whole system, rather than just phones
  • Group 4: Food/Water
    • RFID for improved food manufacturing
    • priority parking for green shoppers
    • mobile alert for expiring food
Closing speech by Jussi-Pekka Erkkola
With that, the first Nokia Open Lab came to an end. Jussi-Pekka "JP" Erkkola gave the closing speech, where he summarised what had gone on and what Nokia had achieved. I'm guessing that, based on the positive reviews from the participants, Nokia will be conducting more of such Open Labs. I hope that it is able to diversify its pool of participants, particularly in Asia.

Helsinki Airport
We said our goodbyes, exchanged contact details, took pictures, and generally just relaxed for the rest of the time. I waited with two others for our ride to the airport. The flight out was at 6:30pm, and I was a bit worried that it would be delayed, knowing how such regional flights usually are. Fortunately, we got out on time, and I was on my way home.

Nokia Open Lab 08

Thanks to Donna Suffling for putting up with constant emails before the event, and Nokia for sponsoring my trip and organising the whole thing!

Aside: I know that I had written previously that I was unable to go to Open Lab. However, after some shuffling of my schedule and talks with the right people, I was able to go for this. So thanks also to those who made this possible, you know who you are!

Nokia Open Lab - day 1
Nokia Open Lab - day 2


Friday, September 12, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 2

Open Lab banner
The Open Lab workshop started proper today, after a hearty continental buffet breakfast at the hotel. (Mmmm, scrambled eggs...) The hall was tucked at the rear of the hotel, but that also meant that we wouldn't have any distractions for the next few hours.

Welcome screenWorkshops about to beginOpening speech
Altogether, about 35 bloggers or prominent tech writers had been invited to Open Lab. About a third came from the U.S. The U.K. and Finland also had fairly large representation. From Asia, there was one guy from India (though an Indian was from the U.S.), one from Japan and one from Taiwan (though both were American expatriates) and one from Singapore - yours truly. About 15 Nokia employees joined us as well.

The opening speech provided an overview of what Nokia thought of the digital and mobile landscape today and what it hoped to get out of Open Lab. Following that, we dived into the first of the four sessions. Each session consisted of a presentation, then a discussion and presentation by each group.
  1. Social media - James Whatley
    • social media has made media more "sociable" - great amplifier
    • when? NOW!
    • you are the stream, not the apps or web services (YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
    • Group 1:
      • need for people to own their own data, not depend on the service
      • privacy issues
      • services organised around groups of friends, e.g. one service for work, another for family, etc.
    • Group 2:
      • neighbourhood of communities?
      • success depends on interface
      • generational gap in usage / experience
    • Group 3:
      • currently, only a high level view of what social media is, as defined by geeks
      • need to move away from the term "social media"
      • social media needs to fade to the background
    • Group 4:
      • ego, narcissism
      • "killing time"
      • desire to communicate
      • digital drop-outs, e.g. go somewhere with no Wifi
      • low barriers to success, e.g. system, requirements
      • social media like pixels: different dots that form a picture

  2. Journey - Glenn Latham
    • mobile has changed GPS, e.g. geotagging
    • GPS films - film ending determined by geolocation
    • Group 1:
      • simplified navigation
      • need to make info useful
    • Group 2:
      • a lo of geotagged output/creation, but little usage
      • localised data that is of interest
      • need to make it easily accessible, e.g. auto-download geocache info
    • Group 3:
      • set it and forget it
    • Group 4:
      • milestones - Operation Desert Storm, Google Earth, 9/11, natural disasters
      • social recommendations - from friends/family
      • GPS to be integrated in existing services, e.g. Twitter

  3. Entertainment - Anne Toole
    • TV studios figuring out how to monetise / use new media
    • online gaming - 39% of online activity
    • only 1% create content
    • Group 1 - Internet short films
      • "Me Media" - one story, many channels
      • community involvement
    • Group 2 - music
      • watermarking / advertising
      • tip jar / micropayment
    • Group 3 - film
      • upsell, e.g. different formats, stories
      • social context, e.g. contest for consumers to participate in film
    • Group 4 - games
      • share your life as a game
      • games for solving technical issues - people describe "cute" pictures and Google will learn this and auto-categorise e.g. a cat is cute

  4. Collaborate - Chris Moore
    • corporations are willing to give up control to consumers
    • Group 1:
      • how to start / implement, i.e. top-down, organic
      • IT - from Information Technology to Interaction Technology
      • organisations as people: business process (skeleton), RSS (nerves), wiki (brain), blogs (senses), internal network/chat (blood), resources/money (muscles)
    • Group 2:
      • corporate culture needs to change
    • Group 3:
      • collaboration tools will change corporate culture
      • private versions of public service, e.g. Yammer vs Twitter
    • Group 4:
      • job aggregator
      • immediate, automated, seamless, painless
Overall, I found the session to be quite informative. Some bits left an impression on me, e.g. the metaphor of organisations as living, breathing people. However, perhaps due to the skew in participants' nationalities, I found that the opinions tended to be one-sided / biased, reflecting the First World view of the new digital landscape. My impression is that my opinions may have come across as too improbable/impossible to believe, based on their experiences in their countries, and so were not as accepted. Or maybe I wasn't forceful enough?

Anyway, I think our Chinese, Korean and Japanese friends would not agree - or even laugh at - some of our opinions. I'm sure that culture plays a big role in shaping one's opinions, especially with regards to usage of technology.

The day ended with a dinner at the hotel's pub, which had been closed off for us. I found myself sitting with some Nokia employees, so I had a chance to find out how the participants had been selected. Long story short: Nokia wanted to hear what prominent tech leaders thought of the digital future, so they sourced for representatives from around the world. I assume that they worked through their existing contacts (regional offices, partner organisations).

The night ended with a performance by local guitarist and one-man band, Petteri Sariola. That guy has some mad guitar skillz! BTW the video was recorded with the Nokia E71.

Petteri Sariola's performance from Yuhui BC on Vimeo.

Nokia Open Lab - day 1
Nokia Open Lab - day 3


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 1

View from the airplane
After enduring a 16-hour flight from Singapore (hey, I've flown for longer, my record is 30+ hours!), I touched down in Helsinki at about 1pm for Nokia's first ever Open Lab workshop. It was also my first time in Europe, so I was kinda excited to get my passport stamped by European customs.

Aside: the customs guy also had a sense of humour. On finding out that it was my first time in Europe, he asked, "Why?"

Klaus K Hotel entranceBedroom at Klaus K Hotel
Like all of the other participants, I had been put up at Klaus K Hotel, a nice little boutique hotel that was also the venue for the workshop. I had a single room, and that meant the room was just big enough for the double bed! But no complaints in the entertainment area: a big flatscreen TV!

Scene from HelsinkiScene from HelsinkiScene from Helsinki
I had about half an hour to myself, so I went out to explore the surrounding area. I took the opportunity to test the camera capabilities of the Nokia E71 smartphone, which each participant had been loaned. Needless to say, its picture quality could not compare to what my trusty ol' Sony Ericsson K800i produced.
Nokia E71Sony Ericsson K800i
Scene from HelsinkiScene from Helsinki

The weather was cool and, as long as the wind didn't blow, comfortable enough to just be in a sweater. Judging by the shops, I realised that this was at the more expensive side of Helsinki, which meant that I wouldn't be doing much shopping!

Nokia House entranceNokia House cafeteriaNokia House cafeteriaOffices at Nokia HouseOffices at Nokia House
I met up with some others back at the hotel to visit Nokia House. I admired the awesome river view from the entrance and steel-and-glass facade that seemed to go on forever. We weren't allowed into the offices, of course.

Old Nokia devicesDisplay pouch with solar cellsExperimental Nokia remote controlled dog
We were ushered to a meeting room with some nifty displays. Shelves of old Nokia products (haha, I found an N-gage phone!), some experimental products (a phone pouch with solar cells for auto-recharging the phone inside), some new products and some toys (a robot dog that was controlled via remote control by a phone).

We ended the excursion with a stop at the Nokia store at the entrance. It was quite amusing to see Nokia-branded shirts, notebooks, umbrellas, frisbees.

First dinner in Helsinki
That night, we had a pre-event party at Black, a nearby restaurant/pub. I don't recall what exactly I ate from the buffet, but it was delicious. I chatted with a few folks and some Nokia employees. Later, we were treated to comedy from an American stand-up comic who's living in Finland.

I went back to the hotel at about 11pm with a few others. Even at night, the weather wasn't that cold... if we walked fast enough!

Nokia Open Lab - day 2
Nokia Open Lab - day 3


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

NHB, please don't send last minute invitations!

Dear Kimberly and the folks at the National Heritage Board,

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to compose the finely worded invitation. I am grateful that you would find us bloggers worthy to be invited to the exclusive evening with the head of the Singapore Art Museum. It's good to see government bodies engaging with the local blogosphere.

However, I really must wonder whether we were an afterthought in your invitation process? Not only did you send the invitation today, but you also stated very clearly that the event would be on tomorrow night.

Such tactless wording smacks me upside the face, virtually speaking. It suggested that you had a long list of invitees and oh, look-ee here at the bottom: "bloggers"! Or are we to fill up the empty spaces?

Yes, I see your apology for the last minute notice. And yes, I realise that your human resources were probably stretched to the limit. I guess I've been spoiled by the world famous efficiency of our Singapore Government and its associated bodies.

Or maybe I'm being too cynical. Perhaps it is too much to ask for an invitation to be sent at least a few days -- if not a week -- in advance. After all, we bloggers do more than just twiddle our thumbs and wait for such exclusive invitations to fall in our laps.

As it turns out, as much as I would like to attend, I can't because I already have something on. But I do hope that you were able to strike gold with other bloggers. At least your event is held in the evening, so a higher proportion of your invited social media mavens should be able to attend.

I wish you success in your event and may your invitees have an enjoyable time co-mingling with SAM's head.


Invitation from NHB to cocktail reception