Bicycle parking gadget

If the bicycle parking area is too large, people will forget where they left their bike.

veloparking basel

Like at the Velo Parking at Basel SBB.

This evening a young woman was looking for her bicycle. A couple of days ago a young man was wandering up and down the aisles in search of his bike.

And the same has happened to me as well. I was extremely tired and couldn’t remember in which aisle I had left my bike.

In almost all cases, people grab their cell phone and call someone.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could call your bike and it would identify itself by ringing out loud or flashing a light?

Which reminds me of another cool presentation I saw at Lift 11:

The web of things

Lift11 in Geneva

I am back from Lift11. This time I took part as a volunteer. I was a runner, helping out with errands, bringing things from A to B, and general troubleshooting.

I like the idea of giving back.

Again the mix of topics and people at Lift was inspiring.

All of the videos are online:

Some highlights:

Social CapitalBrian Solis suggested scenarios where we are/will be assessed according to our online reputation or digital credit rating. Scary.

Tiffany St. James provided a practical guide to online communities.

Hasan Elahi explained how he used his calendar, photos and full transparency to escape from the US suspected terrorist list. He has turned his digital tracks for the FBI into an awesome “Document your life” art project.

I really liked Etienne Mineur’s presentation about a book that wanted to be a video game.

Downtime at Lift11:
The wifi went down on Thursday as Lifters connected to the Internet all at the same time, with numerous devices. 2 to 3 IP addresses per person. I left the charger for my cell phone at home. My Blackberry to keep in touch with my work emails would not recharge despite having the correct charger with me. And I managed to forget my PIN number for my data sim card. And I forgot to take my digi cam.

Things I had forgotten about Geneva:
Shops close early – only open on Thursdays until 8pm.

Customer service is (still) an unknown concept in some places. At the counter of a cafe, the sales person insisted on selling the coffee pour emporter cos the coffee place was closing soon. It was 20:10 and the place was closing at 21:00.

Lift 08: Fragments of Captured Attention

Here are some of my Lift 08 notes, pêle-mêle:


This year I tried to provide a running commentary on Twitter. Unfortunately the wifi was patchy and a number of valuable text snippets were lost… 😉 I got one Tweet response – all the way from Malawi – that appreciated my effort.

I tuned in to the Lift backchannel on Skype:

Lift Backchannel: Tell your friends - http://www..

The Skype backchannel was an interesting experience with live comments, opinions and background links. BTW, Skype was the most resilient of all Internet apps and managed to stay online throughout.

The format of this year’s Lift was a little different. There was one main track, i.e. we were all blogging and twittering about the same presentations. But I didn’t even notice it until we started discussing differences between ’07 and ’08. I liked the new format. I liked following the flow, without having to decide which session I’d need to move to next.

There was a red flashing light to indicate that the speaker’s time had run out… a neat feature.

At any one time, there were an incredible number of cameras in use. Automatic de-lurking.

I met a lot of new people from diverse backgrounds. And I met lots of ’07 attendees (there must have been a high degree of returnees).

My favorite talks:

Younghee Jung – she presented design ideas from Mumbai, Rio, and Accra regarding their vision of a suitable mobile device for their needs. I hope Nokia hears the request for cheap, sturdy and waterproof mobile phones.

Genevieve Bell – I liked the Australian humor.

Eric Favre – even though I don’t like Nespresso, I respect the perseverance.

Noel Hidalgo – a 5 min talk on traveling around the world in 7 months, sponsored by bloggers.


Kevin Warwick – scary but fascinating. He said “tremendously exciting” several times during the talk.

social politics

Holm Friebe and Phillip Albers – two Germans with a dry sense of humor described their creative way of doing business. For example, they don’t wait the usual 30 to 60 days to pay their bills but pay them up front.

Henriette Weber Andersen – enjoyed this refreshing 5 minute reminder that the marketer’s dream world has changed.

Robin Hunicke – great talk. She managed to link her presentation to other content we had heard. I particularly liked her slides that use small sketches as icons. A good idea. I had met her and Souris in the Lift workshop on Forgetful Interfaces and enjoyed their constructive input.

Finally the last sessions on Foresight inspired me. I can recommend watching the videos of Scott Smith and Bill Cockayne.

The corresponding Lift videos are available at:

Yet Another Community System

At the Lift 08 fondue I sat next to the developer of an open-source community tool called YACS:

YACS, le CMS Open Source 2.0 – Yet Another Community System

It uses PHP, MySQL and Apache. And from what I understood it is being used in a large international organization to build up a knowledge management system without the hassle of a complicated, cumbersome tool.

How to get people within a corporate setting to contribute? Make it bonus relevant.

Lift 07: Fragments of Captured Attention

Back from Geneva. Here are a couple of short, offline notes I took during the various sessions.

I don’t want to provide a write-up of the sessions I attended. See Stephanie’s or Bruno’s excellent write-ups instead. And in addition, the LIFT 07 videos and presentations will be available online some time soon.

So here’s a list of concepts / ideas / websites I heard about in my usual bullet-list style, i.e. my “fragments of captured attention”:

Lee Bryant: Collective Intelligence
The next development: joined-up social tools.


Social Funneling – social reading, writing, filtering and eventually information will find me.

Adoption of social tools in corporations: IT is an issue, there are various perceptions of dangers and risks. The default position should be “open”. Practical advise how to introduce social tools: set up pilot projects with small groups.

Users will generally fall into 3 categories:

  • 1% – heavy users
  • 10% – synthesizers
  • The rest – readers (*not* lurkers)

It’s not easy to “create” shared content on a company or corporate level.

Stowe Boyd: Social = Me First
The individual is the new group

There’s a lot of Web 2.0 companies dying off, because their mindset is exactly inverse. Stowe refers to himself as a software psychiatrist.

Discovery is the primary driver. Things like music, places, people, self. If you’re building an app, you need to keep this in mind. In many apps this is often an after-thought.

Paola Ghillani: What kind of Humanity do we want?
She challenged us to think about the technology of our soul, who we are and what is our purpose.

Profit maximisation vs profit optimisation

Apparently even Swiss producers would like to enter fair trade agreements with Max Havelaar.

Favorite quote:

quote i liked

Daniela Cerqui: Towards a Society of Cyborgs?
Daniela, anthropologist, interviewed Kevin Warwick and presented her views and findings on RFID tags, etc.

In 2004, night clubs in Rotterdam and Barcelona introduced membership implants instead of membership cards.

In our society, technology is considered a value. It is an ideology. We need to step back and question developments. We’re part of a social context and we’re on the same path. The line between therapeutic use and social convention is easily crossed.

Julian Bleecker: When 1st Life Meets 2nd Life
Julian mapped 1st life to 2nd life games:

  • Motion: Nintendo Wii
  • Time: Animal Crossing for Nintendo DS
  • Distance: Teku Teku Angel, virtual pet pedometer

Ben Cerveney: The luminous bath: our new volumetric medium

Like Tom, I’ll need some time to reflect and read more on this. Essentially we’re living in a huge bath of data. Media objects or artifacts get meta-tags. Within the bath of data more complex data structures form. There’s some kind of a low-level ability to organise itself. Compare to memotaxis in chemistry.

Aggregate morphologies = mashups

Decanting – take some part of the meta-data
Crstallize – form crystal of data flow which melts away when no longer required
Acculturate – simulate and iterate various paths of evolution applied to different social context.

The data already has an existence of its own. Previous AI models were too abstract…

Adam Greenfield, Everyware: Further down the rabbit hole
The downsides and upsides of pervasive computing, which Adam calls everyware.
Huge new possibilities of surveillance and control,

  • Identifying approaching person by their characteristic foot steps and blocking access to building, or
  • Identifying a dangerous area (e.g. high murder rate) in the city will influence our behaviour.

There’s an internet toilet in Japan that analyses body wastes. Developed for medical use but the information could very easily be posted to the net.

Inadvertent: Regarding geospatial data, there are times we don’t want everybody to know where we are. If we click the wrong button (by our own mistake), everybody who asks will know.

Unwilling: Buying a sweater with an RFID tag.


Who do we turn to to get the settings changed and corrected?

Sessions which I didn’t go to, but I wish I had:
Nathan Eagle
Fabien Giradin

Working in an IT-centered company, I’d like to point out that there’s an important development going on: the rest of the world is using technology and they’re shaping it. Coders and engineers need to adapt and consider the needs of users. It’s no longer their sole domain.

Unlike typical developer conferences with their usual implicit Windows vs Mac, or Sun vs Microsoft/Eclipse/* religion wars, LIFT has a much wider scope and a diverse audience. I met very different people from diverse backgrounds. There was no talk of which blogging tool or platform to use, etc. Instead, it was more about the ways we’re using technology and the impact it will have on society and on us. It was good to get out and reflect on the big picture, the overview.

Other websites to check out:
Digg Swarm
Joost TV / The Venice Project

Disclaimer: this is my interpretation and view. If I get something completely wrong, please leave a comment 😉

LIFT conf ( Day 1 )

It’s pouring outside and I’m taking a quick moment to publish my unreflected notes that I took in today’s sessions, pêle-mêle, off the top of my head, in shorthand:

Morning session:

The slides are available here.

Evaluating and monitoring projects doesn’t need to be costly, esp. with free web survey and website statistics tools.

Goal is “to prove and improve” website and communication projects.

I liked the way Glenn emphasized the ending of words: “outputt

Another point I found important: in many projects the emphasis lies on the activities, the processes and the output, instead of the outcome and the impact or goal.

Afternoon session:

In the afternoon I went to Clark Eliott’s workshop on Collaboration and Innovation in Workspace.

Teamwork needs to be reflected in the workspace, but should also offer focus areas if you need to concentrate on a single activity (like writing, coding) and phone booth areas.

People are resistant to change and will come up with thousands of “Yes, but…” Go ahead with the change plans and offer to be on location and change things when disaster strikes.

“Ideas come from everywhere. Share everything you can”

Knowledge workers work on average 9.1 hrs a day.

Knowledge sharing should be rewarded. But often the reverse happens instead, people who withhold or retain knowledge are promoted.

Some ideas how to offer virtual collaboration areas:

  • offer a mashup between online calendars and online map to show where people in distributed teams are currently located
  • offer some kind of a company Twitter
  • one guy reported that they’re announcing successful or failed software builds using a toy jingle, has become some kind of a team ritual
  • identify location of distributed teams using RFID tags
  • greet knowledge worker in their personal workspace using RFID tags. RFID tags are cheap and can be used to personalize various settings.

Source of stress: arbitrary decisions without communication of the reasons behind them.

Most people go dry and run out of ideas when asked how they would like to improve their workspace.

Discover your work day and then start changing it.

LIFT conf ( Day 0.5 )

My first workshop at LIFT 07 was great. Enjoyed it. I attended Glenn O’Neil’s D.I.Y. Monitoring and Evaluation….

I’m feeling kind of feverish and I’ve got a bad headache, which is ignoring the Aspirin I’ve already taken.