Category Archives: Smart phone

Mozilla Festival at Ravensbourne

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been involved in teaching some first year under-graduate students at Ravensbourne over the last few weeks. This has taken the form of the introduction to and production of WordPress websites.

Part of this project was linked in with the Mozilla Festival which took place at Ravensbourne over the weekend. Students were asked to prepare WordPress sites ready to use and for filling with content over the course of the festival. It was heartening to see the multi-disiplinary groups of students firstly grapple with the new software and concept of content management systems and then steam ahead with innovative ways of using it.  Some implementing live feeds and others procured sponsorship and deals with local businesses.

Each team chose a different subject to cover and during the weekend they filmed interviews, edited videos, wrote articles and constantly updated their site with content from the festival. I went along on the Saturday to observe and take in the festival. The project was a very good example of collaboration, networking, pooling skills and resource as well as learning how to work as a team.

Their sites are available here to view:

Ravezilla: audio and video innovation
Children and Education
Mozilla Gaming

OxIS 2011 Report

In the history of communication technology the Internet is a relatively new communication tool which has enabled the wide-spread adoption and use of Web 2.0 technologies over the last decade. The changing behaviour of users during this period has been the subject of many academic discussions and much qualitative and quantitative data has been produced in support of this. One such organisation is the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) which has been producing data about the web bi-yearly since 2003. Yesterday OxIS released its 2011 report at the salubrious setting of the Strangers Dining Room in the House of Commons. I was lucky enough to be at the launch and heard many speeches about its findings. The report can be downloaded here.

The main focus of the report is the rise of what they call the ‘Next Generation Users’ in Britain defined as firstly, the increasing proportion of users who use portable devices to access the Internet and secondly, users who have and use multiple digital devices. Internet access via mobile devices has doubled from 24% in 2009 to 49% in 2011. The report states that “next generation users are not evenly distributed, but have higher incomes, indicating a new digital divide in Britain and most certainly in other nations”. It also indicates that “more than a quarter of the British population [is] without access to the Internet” (p.5).

On the subject of content production the report shows that “next generation users are more likely to be producers than are first generation users who focus more on consumption rather than production” (p.5) This is illustrated with an accompanying graph.

There is certainly useful data in this report relating to my research. Information gathered for the report shows the next generation of users are not solely made up of the youth of the digital age but are from all age groups although people of retirement age are less like to fit into this type of user. The age demographic of next generation of users is, therefore, “not simply a function of youth or age cohorts” (p.7) the report suggest.

Transforming Audiences 3 conference

Last week University of Westminster hosted Transforming Audiences 3 conference which is held bi-annually. I was one of a number of PhD students helping with the organising. One of my tasks was to take photos, some of which are included in this post. A conference programme including list of events can be found here.

Unfortunately David Guantlett, the lead organiser, had to miss the conference due to the imminent arrival of his second child but sent a message to the conference (below).

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There was a list of high-profile and internationally known keynote speakers throughout the two-day conference, notably; Nancy Baym, author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age; Jean Burgess (left), co-author of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture; Adriana de Souza e Silva, co-author of Mobile Interfaces in Public Spaces and Net Locality and Patricia G. Lange, co-author of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.


Nancy Baym (right) was the first keynote speaker on Thursday. She gave a very engaging presentation on the the relationship between audience/fans online relationship with musicians titled: Biting and Feeding the Hands that Feed, Audience – Musician Interactions Online. Download her presentation here.

It must be noted that Nancy’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, has been evaluable to me in the groundwork of my research.


I made two presentations at the conference. The first was for the pre-conference COST Actionʼs Working Group 2. Iʼd been asked by them to give a 25-minute presentation that links my industry experience to my research project. I gave this the title ʻFrom Punch-cards to Social Media: A Digital Lifeʼ. It tracked my 30-year association with digital technology via broadcasting to the digital tools available today. The second presentation related directly to my researched and was delivered in the ʻuser-generated contentʼ parallel session at the main conference. This initiated much positive feedback and comments and really the first time I had enjoyed presenting. Both of these presentations served as a very useful experience not only for the opportunity to communicate my research project but also for the feedback and comment from the audience.

Above: Lunchtime and delegates discuss the conference and share media

The conference was subtitled Online and Mobile Media, Everyday Creativity and DIY Culture which was reflected in the wide variety of subjects covered in many of the parallel sessions throughout the two days of the main conference. Abstracts can be downloaded here.

As you would expect with a conference about transforming audiences the conference adopted the Twitter hashtag #TA3. This was used extensively and to great effect. It helped give an added source of comment and discussion during the presentations. It was also a good way for people who weren’t able to make it to keep in touch with the proceedings. I took and uploaded photos of the keynotes on my phone and these were shared too.

Multi-tasking and Testing My Phone at The Coronet

I’ve been very much multi-tasking this week. Earlier on this term I agreed to be seminar tutor for UoW’s Network Society and the Media module which is every Monday morning. It’s been a great experience. The first hour I listen to really knowledgeable and experienced speakers deliver lecturers to about 200 students. Then I take two 1 hour seminar groups and discuss the subjects in more depth. This week’s lecture was on Campaigning and Digital Activism. The difficult part comes in a couple of weeks when they hand in their first assignment and I have to mark and give feedback on 55 essays of 2000 words.

I’m still doing some teaching at Ravensbourne College. The college has moved to a new building next to the Millennium Dome and is experiencing the inevitable teething problems. On Tuesday I give some Flash and WordPress training on the BA Multiplatform & Video for the Web course. Some of the rooms still don’t have internet connections which makes teaching difficult as database driven websites like WordPress need one to be accessed.

On Wednesday I visited a friend who works at TNS Research International, a commercial research and marketing company. I wanted some advice and an understanding of how commercial companies conduct research to see the similarities and differences in sourcing and collecting data from participants.

The rest of the week was spent preparing for my imminent symposium presentation next Friday so by Friday I felt I deserved a night out. A friend had bought tickets months back to see Four Tet, Caribou, James Holden,  Nathan Fake, Rocketnumbernine at The Coronet in Elephant and Castle and the event was now totally sold out. I love all the electronic artists on the bill and it is rare to see a such a strong line-up all in one night. I’d never seen Caribou or Four Tet live before so this was a great opportunity.

This was also a good opportunity to give my new HTC Desire a thorough work-out to see what it could cope with from a social networking, photo and video uploading, sound recording perspective. Luckily the venue had a good phone signal and during Nathan Fake’s set I was able to post a photo to my Facebook account. More or less immediately my friend, Dene, posted a rely saying “get closer mate!”. This was a rather revelatory moment.

So I then tried recording some sound and uploading that to my ipadio account and then some sound recording and video of Caribou to my posterous account. The phone sent all the files successfully. The sound was was very distorted but it was loud in there. This activity left my phone very warm to the touch and considerably depleted the battery. I had just enough power to take and upload some photos of Four Tet’s fabulous set (above).

My HTC Desire passed all the tests with ease. The only minor issues were the battery power life and the audio recording quality. What a great way to end a varied week. A very enjoyable night was had by all and I arrived home at a nostalgic 5am via the night bus.

Year Two Begins

It’s the start of the first semester of the 2010/11 academic year and this week I’ve started my lecturing duties which are part of most PhD students life.

On Monday’s I now take two seminars for the The Network Society and the Media module. This Monday lecture provided a background to the subject with an introduction to Manuel Castells and the transition from industrial to network society. The students are second years and surprisingly quiet but become more opinionated by the end of the session.

On Thursday I started a my sessional lecturing at the newly located Ravensbourne College. Originally getting to the college was a train journey from London Bridge to Kent but now they’ve re-located to a new high-tech building (left and above) at Greenwich Peninsular next to the Dome. It’s a strikingly designed building by the architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo. The building is clad with a tesselating design of tiles developed from a pattern by mathematician Michael Hirschorn. Read more about the building and college here.

However, the college is still not open to the students and so I end up taking the lecture in, the very US sounding, ‘Soccer Dome’ next door (formerly the David Beckham Academy).  It’s a bizarre linking of arty media students with empty kit rooms, celebratory framed and signed football shirts and indoor football pitches.

The main purpose of my lecture was to give the students a full introduction to the principals of the web and introduce them to online tools for self-publishing their work. I got them all to register and customise their own Posterous website and to upload photos and videos. At lunch time I asked those with smart phones to record some footage of the new building and upload from their phone. This was well received and acted as a fun but also instructive introduction to their multi-media module.

The Answer is Android

I’ve just got back from a weeks break in Tallinn, Estonia. This was welcome after the mentally and physically gruelling Summer School. It was a very good holiday with a day trip via ferry to Helsinki (left) along the way.

Estonia is a very digitally connected country and there was free internet in the hotel. This meant I could keep in touch with everything and everyone while I was away.

After much deliberation and research between the iPhone or Android (as mentioned earlier in this diary) I decided to go for the Android. I’d managed to get a very good deal on a new HTC Desire Android phone through T-mobile before I went and was on the last day of my trip was informed that it was ready for delivery.

Yesterday I received the wonderful HTC Desire and today I’ve got around to playing with it. It’s great to use and easily as functional as the iPhone but much less costly.

The thing I like too is the Android operating system. Firstly being part of the Google stable of products it syncs up easily to the my Google account meaning that contacts, calendar and Gmail all update to my phone and back to my Mac. Secondly the open source nature of Android means there is a flourishing community of developers building applications for the Android Market. It’s not going to be long before the apps available for android will overtake and surpass Apple’s as it is more inclusive. There is a new update, 2.2 froyo, out soon which speeds up the functionality too.

iPhone or Android?

I’ve been contemplating getting the new iPhone 4 ever since it was released but as always with Apple products they’re considerably more expensive than others. Very desirable and beautifully designed objects are usually pitched at a premium price. As a student £35 a month, 24 month contract is too much and too long for me. Tesco’s do a 12 month deal for £20 a month with £350 upfront for the phone but they can’t get any phones at the moment and, due to their tie in with O2, are well down the pecking order when it comes to getting new stock.

Added to this is the rather clumsy way Apple Inc.’s PR has been behaving recently. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple products, PC are a  no, no for me. But there seems to  be an underlying arrogance creeping in to their rhetoric.

Firstly their refusal to adopt Adobe’s Flash player for the iPhone and the public spat that ensued was poorly handled. Then as the Flash debate raged Apple accused Adobe of being 100% closed and proprietary. Hello! Apple you are hardly open-source yourself! As much as I agree with Apple that the way forward for the web and hand held devices is to adopt open software like HTML 5, CSS and JavaScript, Flash is no less open than Final Cut or iLife. Apple also like tethering and keep a tight control on how apps are made and received. It appears Apples only claim to open-source is WebKit, an open-source HTML5 rendering engine which I doubt may people have heard of and must mean that Apple are now only 95% proprietary. See Adobe and Apple: Please Spare Us the Platitudes About “Open” and See Thoughts on Flash Jobs speaks.

Secondly the inept explanation and diverting tactic over aerial antenna on the iPhone 4 which initially made them look like they were blaming the user and then the software settings.

So what can a poor boy do?…… The answer is…. a smart phone with Google’s Android operating system. The advantage is price in relation to functionality. Google’s operating system in conjunction with high quality smart phones like the HTC Desire are beginning to give the iPhone a run for its money. Android is also an open-source platform with a bourgeoning application market place that is ripe for developers to experiment without the weight of Apple applying restriction. It suits the model that, ironically, Apple say they want for the future of the web – open, customisable and free from proprietary company interference.

So I’ve ordered a HTC Desire at £15 a month for 24 months with 300 mins, 300 texts and unlimited web access. Only problem is they are so popular that I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for delivery.