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Physical World Hyperlinks

By Russell in Technology
Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 05:17:59 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

While the cell phone is changing society at many levels, the most fundamental change is yet to come. This is when our phones start to bridge the physical and the digital worlds, to enrich our lives in ways we can currently only guess at.

Just as hyperlinks allowed the web to fulfil its potential, physical world hyperlinks read by our cell phones, will take the role of technology to a whole new level in our lives.

One important role that I see for the future of the cell phone is as a bridge between the physical world and the digital one. An aspect of this will be the ability to leave a virtual message or tag attached to a place or object, for others to find and read/see.

For instance, London has its famous Blue Plaques, which are plaques (blue ones, funnily enough). These affixed to houses that were the residencies of famous people, like the plaque at 221b Baker Street celebrating Sherlock Holmes(actually, it's on number 221, as 221b is as fictional as the character). If you visited it, your phone could give you access to a wealth of information "hidden" virtually at the site. This could range from more biographical information on Sherlock and his sidekick, Dr Watson, to the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This potentially brings the Wikipedia into the physical world, enriching it beyond measure.

Obviously, you wouldn't need a visual plaque to tell you that there was information available, providing that your phone could alert you to it. And that the phone was instructed as to the type of information you would find interesting, and more importantly, messages you didn't want to get. One man's valuable information is another woman's spam.

Such tags wouldn't have to be purely informational. They could be commercial too - maybe offering you a discount off a Sherlock Guided Tour or a coupon for a local bookshop. People have been talking about Location Based Marketing for years, but this could make it reality. Clearly, in order to work, this would have to be strictly opt in and policed mercilessly.

Messages could also be personal, although there would need to be a clear advantage over direct contact by sms or voice. But an example might be a scavenger hunt, where people followed clues from location to location - like the exploding sport of geocashing works today.

Or maybe I want to set a location based reminder to myself that the next time I walk down this street, I need to visit a shop which is currently closed. Yes, there are other ways of doing this, but location-based alerts might offer a better solution in specific instances.

This type of system doesn't need to be restricted to a place. In a book shop, you could scan the barcode with your phone or input the ISBN code into (say) a Java application on your phone and see the Amazon or epionions peer reviews on the book.

Or in library (remember those?) or art gallery, you could see what previous readers/visitors thought or get together online or physically to discuss it, if you wanted.

Or scan a product in the supermarket to find out more about the product ingredients, including what that innocuous looking E number actually means.

As you'll appreciate, the list is endless (including many applications for sex and porn, as many reviewers of this article noted), as well as being transformational.

This kind of technology is now in the process of being deployed, whether we're talking Siemens' Digital Graffito or scanning barcodes.

There are clearly many issues to overcome to make this a reality, not the least of which is who polices and controls this virtual content. For instance, what's to stop an unscrupulous restaurateur from posting a fictitious and favourable review of his establishment? But Wikipedia has demonstrated that there are ways of managing this kind of issue most of the time.

However, if this system is introduced, I believe that it will enrich the world around us in a non-polluting way and make the world an even more fascinating place.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Blue Plaques
o Siemens' Digital Graffito
o scanning barcodes
o Also by Russell

Display: Sort:
Physical World Hyperlinks | 109 comments (66 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
A link between real and symbolic (none / 1) (#3)
by pakje on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:46:04 AM EST

In my opinion, the future of the cell phone is not what you describe. Although it is difficult to prospect what the next big thing is going to be, it certainly is not going to be a cell-phone / RFID combination. Even WAP was a better idea, and it didn't got accepted by the mass audience. or something...

The Cell Phone Future (none / 0) (#4)
by Russell on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:53:59 AM EST

Errr...who said anything about RFID? And, WAP had 1.42 billion page impressions in the UK last month, so that's pretty mainstream I think. But thanks for the comment. Russell

[ Parent ]
You realize for this to work (2.00 / 3) (#7)
by LilDebbie on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:28:45 AM EST

phones would have to be GPS-enabled.

You realize if phones are GPS-enabled, your every movement can be easily tracked.

Just sayin'.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

you're wrong (none / 1) (#8)
by lonelyhobo on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:43:57 AM EST

local signals can initiate this, it doesn't have to be global

[ Parent ]
local signals (none / 1) (#9)
by LilDebbie on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:46:43 AM EST

tied to a global system - same result. may as well us GPS, saves on local infrastructure.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
I somewhat disagree (none / 1) (#10)
by lonelyhobo on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:49:00 AM EST

the global system it's tied to would be the internet, where the information that the local signal triggers is gathered.  It could be untrackable

[ Parent ]
are we assuming a non-interactive system? (none / 1) (#11)
by LilDebbie on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:51:34 AM EST

cuz yes, that would work, but it'd be pretty boring. just high tech map kiosks like the kind you see in malls.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
GPS (none / 1) (#12)
by Russell on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:03:21 PM EST

Both ways I'm talking about are strict opt-in services, therefore privacy isn't such an issue here. If you don't want to be tracked, don't join in. But overall the privacy issue is important, though I wouldn't get hung up on phones specifically - it's just a general trend ranging from cookies to CCTV. One school of thought is "Privacy is dead, get over it." The other seems to be to opt out of "civilisation" and technology :-( As a society, I guess we should have had this debate 10 years ago. Now it seems to be too late. Russell

[ Parent ]
phones are already gps enabled (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by j1mmy on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:17:35 PM EST

I've done development with Motorola phones, and all them of them require user intervention to activate the GPS chip. The GPS chip does not broadcast it's location to anyone unless the user runs an application that will do so. GPS is a pull technology, not a push technology.

It's also worth noting that a GPS chip will run down your phone's battery in a very short time. Unless the phone is hooked into your car, you're not going to be tracking yourself for very long.

You can, however, always be tracked by the location of the cell towers your phone talks to. It's not as accurate, but it's still better than nothing.

[ Parent ]

Well.... (none / 0) (#32)
by The Amazing Idiot on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:50:06 AM EST

When many phones mention GPS, they actually mean active triangulation between 3 towers. That takes a LOT of power to have a continous datastream to figure where youre at.

And GPS would require a bigger antenna for real GPS tracking, and not that little nubbbin antenna that pops out.

[ Parent ]

wtf are you talking about (none / 1) (#59)
by j1mmy on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:06:14 PM EST

GPS satellites broadcast a signal like any other satellite. If the signal is strong enough, even the little antenna on my phone can receive it. I don't even need to pop it out.

FYI no phones triangulate from cell tower locations. Many do assisted GPS which does some trickery involving fewer satellites than a normal reading with assistance provided by the cell tower it's talking to. This mode is actually less power-consuming than an actual GPS reading, which will involve half a dozen satellites or more.

[ Parent ]

Phones can already be tracked, GPS not an issue (3.00 / 5) (#15)
by cburke on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 04:16:08 PM EST

First, GPS is a passive location technology.  The GPS receiver reads signals from the GPS satellites, and based on those signals computes your location.  The GPS satellites have no idea who is using their signal and where they are. The only way this information could be used to track you is if the phone sent that information over its wireless link elsewhere.  

At which point you're already redundant, since the wireless link already allows you to be tracked, GPS or no.

Cell phones are not passive devices.  They broadcast to nearby cell towers, which means that by triangulating the signal received by several towers your location can be deduced.  So you're already screwed.

[ Parent ]

lofflecoptorz (none / 1) (#16)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 04:26:58 PM EST

is already done.

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Nope. (none / 1) (#17)
by gordonjcp on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 04:52:49 PM EST

All you'd need is a very short-range cell tower, broadcasting some extra flag.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
I don't see.... (none / 1) (#18)
by Sgt York on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 04:58:39 PM EST

....why GPS would be needed.

The owner of an establishment has the device installed at their place of business. It is set to only interact with mobile devices within a set distance of itself. Once in range, your phone alerts you that there is a device available for leaving messages. At the same time, your phone identifies itself to the device by phone number or some other ID. You leave a message for your friend, the device tells you that the note will be available for 24 hours or whatever, and go on your merry way. Later, your friend stops by and the device picks up his phone and delivers the message. You can still be tracked, but it's not GPS. OK, so it's a nitpick.

What I fail to see is why this would be superior to just texting the person. And for the Amazon thing, what prevents me from just opening up the browser on my web-enabled phone and doing the same thing right now?

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Easier (none / 0) (#20)
by Russell on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 05:18:01 PM EST

Sgt York Thanks for the comment. Nice to have a constructive and thoughtful piece of feedback :-) Yes, texting might make more sense in some instances, I totally agree. In others, local messaging might be more appropriate. Horses for courses and all that. But as far as "the Amazon thing" is concerned, nothing stops you from typing the link address at all. In the same way as nothing stops you from typing the address of any web page on your PC. But "clicking" on a hyperlink makes it much easier and increases usability incredibly. This is true for the PC, but much more so for the clumsier cell phone interface. Russell

[ Parent ]
Superior (none / 0) (#34)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 02:05:38 AM EST

I guess it's horses for courses. Sometimes a local message would be better - maybe the recipient is out of range, as an example. Or maybe you only want them to get something if and when they get to that location. As far as typing stuff into your browser is concerned, again you can. But hyperlinking, on a PC or phone, is much quicker and easier. In fact, typing in an address on a phone is very cumbersome indeed. The web only really started to get useful when hyperlinking arrived. The other point is that this is a push system, if you want it to be. You can automatically get alerts about info that you may not have tried to find out about or didn't know that you could find out about it. Russell

[ Parent ]
GPS not needed (none / 0) (#50)
by khallow on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 09:46:57 AM EST

Cell phone locations can be determined with a reasonable accuracy (with tens of meters or less) through triangulation from three or more towers.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

wtf (2.12 / 8) (#22)
by kitten on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 05:27:05 PM EST

They could also be personal. So if you arranged to meet Great Aunt Jemima outside 221b Baker Street, but were a bit early, you could leave a message just for her to collect when she arrived, telling her to meet you at a local café.

Yeah. Or you could, I don't know, call her on that selfsame phone?

All your other suggestions are equally useless. I can talk to the person in the library, instead of using this nonsense to "arrange a hookup". I could buy food based on whether it looks good instead of obsessing over every nitrate, nutrate, natrite, nutrite, and preservative and using barcodes to find out more.

-1, asinine.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Yeah (2.33 / 3) (#23)
by Russell on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 06:02:00 PM EST

OK, OK you're right. Except....supposing, you can't call coz they're out of range? Like on the subway or something? Or a rural area where reception is patchy? Sure you can phone. Sure you can sms. But if you can't get through, wouldn't this be useful? And, please explain to me how you would propose to hook up with someone who had borrowed the book you're reading? Telepathy? Would your library give you the contact details of previous borrowers? I don't think so, somehow. And finally (he wrote, albeit asininely and irrelevantly for the current debate) if you don't give a fuck about what you put in your body, a lot of people do care about what they put in theirs. If you buy food coz it "looks good" you're applying the wrong criteria. Sorry, you're wrong on this one. Russell

[ Parent ]
No way (none / 1) (#58)
by kitten on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 11:59:52 AM EST

Except....supposing, you can't call coz they're out of range? Like on the subway or something? Or a rural area where reception is patchy? Sure you can phone. Sure you can sms. But if you can't get through, wouldn't this be useful?

Oh for crissake. God forbid you try calling again in a few minutes when they're off the subway. Or your granny shows up to the meeting place, you aren't there, and then she can call you and you can say "Oh yeah, well, I'm at the cafe down the street." How hard is this? Do you really need to develop an entirely new technology, or shoehorn old technologies, for that?

And, please explain to me how you would propose to hook up with someone who had borrowed the book you're reading? Telepathy?

Fine, but more to the point, why would I want to? "Oh, I see that Joey Newmark read this book a year ago. He sounds cool, I think I'll give this total stranger a call out of nowhere and see if he wants to go catch a baseball game," or "Ah, looks like someone named Ashley Carter read this a year ago. I bet she's everything I ever dreamed of. I should totally call her and I won't look like a lunatic at all because, hell, we read the same book!"

I think I'll pass on your idea, thanks.

if you don't give a fuck about what you put in your body, a lot of people do care about what they put in theirs. If you buy food coz it "looks good" you're applying the wrong criteria.

I didn't say I "don't give a fuck" or that "looks good" is my only criteria. What I said was that life is short enough, and the time you're "prolonging" it by refusing to put some obscure FD&C Red Dye in your body is probably the amount of time you're losing by inputting that shit into a database for other obsessed dorks to scan with handheld phones.

If I want some noodles I'm going to buy some noodles. I don't have the time to sit there scanning every one of the fifty varieties they have at the store and analyzing them down to their component ingredients, and I'm guessing most people work this way as well. There simply isn't a demand for the service.

Your idea is just a solution looking for a problem and these kinds of ridiculous straws you're grasping at proves it.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#69)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 02:07:20 PM EST

Well, maybe it's an idea looking for a solution, though frankly I have no vested interest in its success one way or the other. Neither am I arguing that all the ideas for it are going to happen. But I think some will. Let's wait and see what happens. Russell

[ Parent ]
Get Real (2.50 / 2) (#29)
by Peahippo on Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:15:00 PM EST

The only "killer app" for cellphones is a collaborative system using video, sound and a locator so that people can easily and freely arrange meetings for spontaneous sex.

I find it amusing you never mentioned this despite your term "physical hyperlink".

After all, when the Internet was born, who mentioned in public that it would be the largest river of pr0n flowing in the world?

Good point. (none / 0) (#35)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 02:08:57 AM EST

Sadly, the whole toothing thing has recently been revealed to be made up by a journo. Sad, but true. Not to say your theory won't happen at some point :-) Russell

[ Parent ]
This will (none / 1) (#91)
by starsky on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 10:50:18 AM EST

happen just as soon as women decide they want to have meaningless sex with unattractive men.

[ Parent ]
I'd probably get one (2.00 / 2) (#31)
by Kadin2048 on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:11:25 AM EST

It sounds interesting. A few things come to mind though. If the `hyperlink' network (if that's what you want to call your idea) is inherently dependent on small low-power transponders, like the Blue Plaques, then it's probably a good technology for urban areas but not for rural ones. And unless you could make those transponders really, really cheap, or find some other motivation for people to set them up, there'd never really be enough of them for it to catch on, I don't think. The alternative would be to encourage businesses to set them up by having them broadcast advertising or something, but that would be annoying (I for one would perceive it as spam and probably disable the feature immediately) and that would be the end of that.

If you did do it using physical transponders, why not use Bluetooth? It's becoming available in more and more cellphones, and is also used by other portable devices that might be more suited to leaving messages (e.g. laptops have Qwerty keyboards). The other advantage to Bluetooth that I could see would be the chance to make the system independent of the cell networks.

Alternately, what I think would be more interesting -- although, yes, it would have certain privacy implications -- would be to base the system off of GPS or some other network-derived locating strategy. That way you wouldn't need physical artifacts in order to leave location specific messages. When you wanted to leave a message, you could specify a `radius,' the intended recipients (a single person, members of a group, everyone?), and a time limit. The network would take your message and your current location and store it, and when one of the recipients came within the set radius of the message `position,' it would alert them and display the message. You'd have to come up with some sort of system to prevent spam, maybe karma-based, and it would be totally opt-in, of course.

Anyway, I think it's a really interesting idea and could definitely go places.

Thanks (none / 0) (#37)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 02:17:11 AM EST

Thanks for the comment. Nice to see that some people round here can be constructive :-) You've nailed the issue exactly. Siemens are using Assisted GPS for their system. Nokia, Bluetooth. The Siemens system should be able to scale better, as you say. But the Nokia one is probably easier to get running in the first place - you just have to throw up one server and see what happens. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. Russell

[ Parent ]
Big Problem (none / 1) (#33)
by blackpaw on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 01:53:06 AM EST

There is no 221b Baker Street ! 221 exists, but 221b has always been fictional.

Kinda highlights the naivety of the rest of your article, which also ignores the only possible real cell phone physical hyperlink - porn. Cell phone guides to brothels and strip clubs, that would work.

Sorry (none / 0) (#38)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 02:23:05 AM EST

Well, you are kind of right. Obviously there's no 221b Baker Street. But there is a Blue Plaque - see img here http://www.blueplaque.com/get_data.php?id=38&type=thumbnail and that's what I was writing about. Which kind of illustrates the naivity of *your* comment. On the other hand, porn is another obvious use. I was trying to explore less obvious ones. Russell

[ Parent ]
Interesting idea, but... (none / 0) (#41)
by Nameless on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 06:07:31 AM EST

The whole idea has some possibly nice uses. But let's consider the real world... If this takes off, you'll soon turn it off or wish that you could. Why? Because every shop that you walk by will push an ad into your phone. Can you imagine how annoying that will be, having your phone beep every few meters as you get into range for the next location? Then someone will add filtering rules to the function, then the advertizers will look for ways around those, ...

Don't allow 'push' information (none / 0) (#43)
by Dievs on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 07:05:34 AM EST

Make it strictly a 'pull' technology - the phone can request the information about the place, but phone shouldn't react in any way at all if the user is not doing a request now.

[ Parent ]
That makes most other uses moot (none / 0) (#46)
by Nameless on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 07:28:49 AM EST

The problem is, if you do that, then most other uses become moot. If you leave a message for someone, how likely is it that he'll actively check for it when he gets to that spot?

[ Parent ]
Filtering (none / 0) (#49)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 09:39:58 AM EST

The answer really has to be good filtering controls. Pull only won't work as people will forget to check. But if you could filter out all commercial messages (if you wanted), you'd need to be allowed to. However, surprisingly, most people do quite like commercial messages if it's well targeted to them. Then it suddenly stops being spam and becomes something that has added value to them. So if you could say, for instance, that you only wanted to hear from record shops when they had a discount for you and no one else ever, that might appeal to some. Having said that, this sort of filtering would be complex and time consuming for the user to set up, so there's no easy solution. Russell

[ Parent ]
I was with you up until... (none / 1) (#47)
by speek on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 08:04:49 AM EST


Or something like that.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Agree (none / 0) (#48)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 08:18:43 AM EST

Yeah, I know what you mean. But if it's opt in, it shouldn't be a problem. And as far as spammers abusing this is concerned, don't forget the abusers have to be in close proximity. How many spammers would there be if they had to stand within hitting distance of the recipient? :-) Russell

[ Parent ]
I don't follow (none / 0) (#61)
by speek on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:32:53 PM EST

I don't see why the spammer themselves have to be anywhere nearby, they just have to have their electronic equivalent of billboards set up everywhere, sending stuff to you cell phone, your pda, your net-aware mp3 player,etc. Nor do I expect these things to be "opt-in", or, if they are, you will opt-in for some info you're genuinely interested in, and be asked to watch/listen to a 30-sec commercial spot before the info comes over.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Location based (none / 0) (#67)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 01:50:16 PM EST

I'd have thought that it would only make sense for an advertisement sent this way to be something relevant to the area - hence my point about being within hitting distance. While you could start spamming with Viagra type messages, it would be difficult to hit the high numbers of people that spam relies on. Even in a highly trafficked urban area, the numbers would be tiny in comparison to email, as an example. Or even receiver-pays sms, in the US. So, I think you're safe from this particular nightmare. For the time being anyway. Russell

[ Parent ]
Remember those T-Shirts? (none / 1) (#52)
by ghoti on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 11:27:37 AM EST

There was this website during the .com bubble that sold T-Shirts with an alphanumeric code on them. So if you saw this really hot chick on the subway but had not had time for a shower that morning, you would go to that website, type in the code on her shirt (something like 3qt!f) and send her a message. This is basically the same idea you are describing.

Has it caught on? No. Why not? Because people don't need links from meatspace to teh web, or all those fancy location-based services. There's lots of talk about how your phone would show you the closest restaurant and tell you about the history of the building you are walking past. But if you want to know that, you might as well do a little web search on your WAP phone or PDA - or buy one of those old-fashioned book things (especially if you're going somewhere on holiday, you might want to do some reading beforehand).

This is just another attempt to design teh killer app for mobile phones, especially for those UMTS things (watch a movie about Roald Dahl - or whoever wrote Sherlock Holmes ;), and I doubt that it will catch on.

I'm not sure... (none / 1) (#65)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 01:27:19 PM EST

... that the T-shirt thing is the same really. One's push and one's pull, for a start. And if memory serves there was a shortage of girls who wanted to go around with a t-shirt which basically says "shag me" on the front :-) Yes, you can certainly type in a link by hand to a WAP site. Same as you can on a PC. It's just that a clicking on a link makes it much, much easier. This is especially on a cumbersome UI on a cell phone. Thanks for the comment anyway. I agree with you that lots of cell phone stuff is overhyped. I'm just not sure that this is one of them. Russell

[ Parent ]
A feature we REALLY need on cellphones (3.00 / 6) (#62)
by pyro9 on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:54:56 PM EST

The cellphone feature list is getting out of hand. I have a SIMPLE one and it plays java games, has downloadable themes, full color LCD, etc.

It's nice to have built-in phone book, calculator, and clock/calandar. Those are simple enough and don't take up much resources.

However, there is one really essential feature I have yet to see in any cellphone:

The ability to reliably make and recieve phone calls.

They all regularly drop calls or give crappy sound that cuts out every third word. I really wish they would put the intensive development of bells and whistles on hold long enough to make them perform their supposed primary function well first.

The future isn't what it used to be
Good point (none / 0) (#66)
by Russell on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 01:43:57 PM EST

You should have tried Hutchison's 3 (3G) phone in the UK when it came out. I got a free one but gave up using it as *every* call I ever made was dropped. And that was right in central London. Since operators make over 80% of their revenues from voice, you'd have thought they'd try and get this right. Ho hum. Russell

[ Parent ]
EXACTLY! (none / 0) (#72)
by Mr.Surly on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 03:20:43 PM EST

You can walk into a cell phone store and walk out with a camera/pda/game console/camp stove, but they can't put a fucking phone in that works.

[ Parent ]
YES! (none / 0) (#81)
by 123456789 on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 07:15:08 PM EST

Thank you for being a voice of reason. The purpose of a phone is to make a phone call. If it fails at this then everything else is crap.

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Kierkegaard
[ Parent ]
If anything like this (none / 1) (#70)
by The Distinguished Reginald T Sackworth on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 03:18:49 PM EST

ever catches on I'm going to live in the woods.

Spammy spam spam (3.00 / 2) (#80)
by hatshepsut on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 06:05:47 PM EST

I already get junk mail at the door, spam in my inbox, telemarketers on the phone, and all the other "delights" of marketing.

I thank you for the article for the simple reason that I now know I shall have to become a complete Luddite, discard all my electronic toys (my Bluetooth-enabled Tungsten T3, my cell phone, my computer, etc.) and go and live in the woods (without a street address). Any technology devised will end up being used by marketroids to try to push their crap on us all. Saying the technology will be pull instead of push is a pleasant dream.

OK, in all seriousness, I filter my email aggressively, I have a "No flyers" sign on my door, and I haven't enabled the Bluetooth capabilities on the T3. My cell phone is just a phone (no PDA, no camera, no mp3 player). If this sort of technology ever comes to fruition, I shall merely set up the equivalent type of "protection" on it as I have on the other devices and go upon my merry (and spamless) way.

How would this work? (none / 0) (#82)
by BobTheMighty on Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 08:10:04 PM EST

Would every cell phone have a GPS and there is some central database that decides when one has gotten close enough to one of your "real-world hyperlinks" to send a message? Or would there be some local device that could detect the presence of a cell and its number and then send the info? Or would you have cells all broadcast their numbers so that the devices would just scan for the broadcast?

Seems like the potential abuse is too high for a feature that, as others have mentioned, might save you the time of a Google search.
I'll try not to confuse you more than absolutely necessary

It depends (none / 0) (#86)
by Russell on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 04:10:27 AM EST

There are various systems, ranging from polling Bluetooth enabled phones in the area to "scanning" a bar code with your camera phone to get access to information. I'm interested in writing about the potential of the technology, not so much how it works. But I'd agree, if such systems are introduced (and they will be, despite what we want on this site) the main point is that there must be integral ways that people can avoid being contacted if they don't want to be. Russell

[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#93)
by BobTheMighty on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 12:00:09 PM EST

I think that scanning a barcode would be best. That would provide information to those who effectively 'opt-in' by doing the scanning without assaulting those who don't care with electronic messages.
I'll try not to confuse you more than absolutely necessary
[ Parent ]
some constructive comments (1.57 / 7) (#88)
by ant0n on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 09:02:29 AM EST

The idea described in your article is nothing but stupid. When I'm at 221 Baker Street, why would I want the entire works of Arthur Conan Doyle downloaded onto my cell phone with its pathetic little display? I have read them in an actual book anyway already. And why would I want to access the misinformation provided by the Wikipedia at all, be it on my cell phone or on my PC? The Wikipedia does not 'enrich' the world, it makes it poorer because it makes people stupid. Same with your example about books; when I'm going to buy a book, I don't give a fuck what some morons on epinions or Amazon think about it. I can judge for myself, thank you. The same with your example with the closed shop: when you need a cell phone to remind you that you have to visit a certain shop while you are walking down some street, because it was closed when you walked there last time, then you probably have Alzheimer's; I don't think that a cell phone-service is a solution to that. Your article is bullshit.

Now to your whining: nobody here cares whether you have a 'blog' with 60 000 readers. Because you could have 6000000 readers on your 'blog' and the article would still suck. You say that you know what you are talking about; well, then please prove this by writing an article that doesn't suck. You are also whining about the way 'we' treat 'fresh blood'. Do you really think you get some kind of preferred treatment because this is your first article submission? Hey, I submitted three or four articles over the time, all got voted down; but that doesn't make me sad, it only showed me that my articles were not good enough for k5 and that I have to put more effort into my next submissions. And so should you.

-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
Oh dear (none / 0) (#89)
by Russell on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 10:28:53 AM EST

I'm sorry, but you seem to be under the misapprehension that just because *you* won't find a service useful, *no one* will. Have you ever paid $5 to download a ringtone to your phone, for instance? Millions of people do, every week - somewhat inexplicable to me too, but that is the case. The Wikipedia comment - not sure what you've got against it really. But again, you might not use it, but millions of people do. Why does it make people stupid, though, he asked stupidly? Books; I'm sorry, but recommendation is the single most important reason why relatively unknown authors become best sellers. Maybe you can judge a book by its cover with no input from others and I'm sure there's lots of people like you. But for others, recommendation is important. I'm really sorry if I came across as whining. That wasn't my intention at all. I wasn't actually trying to personalise this, merely point out that many people, yourself included, make this process a lot more unpleasant than it need be. This will definitely put other people off contributing, which seems a shame - not everyone has your confidence in their own opinions. It's not going to stop me, you'll be disappointed to hear. Though I do note the point about trying harder next time :-) But my question to you is, why be quite so aggressive? It's perfectly possible to be constructively critical without resorting to words like "bullshit" and "stupid" isn't it? Ho hum. Russell braces himself for another ranty comment. Russell

[ Parent ]
Re: Oh dear (none / 1) (#92)
by ant0n on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 11:30:04 AM EST

The Wikipedia comment - not sure what you've got against it really. But again, you might not use it, but millions of people do. Why does it make people stupid, though, he asked stupidly?

There are no stupid questions. I provided a link in my top comment pointing to an insightful article by Robert McHenry that explains why the Wikipedia is crap. And because it's crap, groupthink and contains wrong information, people who believe the texts contained in the Wikipedia become misinformed and believe in wrong facts. Same with Amazon reviews, by the way.

But my question to you is, why be quite so aggressive? It's perfectly possible to be constructively critical without resorting to words like "bullshit" and "stupid" isn't it?

Well, as you seem to prefer to express yourself using mainly words like 'shit' and 'ass', I thought I better try to adjust my level of speech to yours. As you said it yourself: "some of the shit people post on this site is unbelievable". And I think this very much applies to your article. Because your idea of 'physical world hyperlinks' makes as much sense to me as those ringtones for $5 you mentioned. Yes, I know, there are millions of other people that love downloadable ringtones and physical world hyperlinks and furry conventions and what not, but I don't like it.

-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Interesting point (none / 1) (#94)
by Russell on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 12:04:50 PM EST

Actually, you raise an interesting point. You don't seem to like the article because you wouldn't personally use any of the services I mentioned, despite the fact that many people might. But does that make it a bad article? Does it make it not worthy of discussion by a wider audience? I fully accept that it's controvercial. But the science behind it is factual and both Siemens and Nokia are both working on versions of it. I have no vested interest in seeing it succeed, incidentally. Though I personally, think it has some cool aspects. So, saying an article is shit because it's badly written, badly researched, based on bad science etc seems to be fair enough. But you seem to be suggesting it's shit because you don't like the services discussed or don't want to see the services introduced. While you're completely free to vote against any article of any grounds (such as the over-frequent use of the letter "e" if you like), your rationale seems to be an example of censorship than any serious attempt at quality control. As far as my use of colourful language is concerned, mea culpa. But I was in turn reacting to some rather aggressive language myself. Childish, perhaps, but also perhaps understandable. Toodle pip* Russell * A Swedish obscenity.

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (none / 0) (#95)
by ant0n on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 12:34:45 PM EST

I voted your article down because I don't like the idea behind it and because I think it's not well written. Even if I would like the idea of physical world hyperlinks, I still would have voted it down.

-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
And why (none / 1) (#96)
by Russell on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 12:47:21 PM EST

didn't you say that in the original post, out of interest? What don't you like about it? This is not a facetious question. I'd like to get better as a writer and constructive criticism is the only way I can. And more practice, of course. And I'm sure you can critique nicely, if you try :-) Russell

[ Parent ]
mchenry is a horrible source (none / 0) (#105)
by Rhodes on Mon Apr 18, 2005 at 06:11:59 PM EST

if you really want to make a point, you would cite this article

Wikipedia founder memoir (part 1)

by one of the wikipeida founders, who has serious qualms about how wikipedia was developed / grew

rather than mchenry, whose points are clouded by conflicts of interest (who has paid him in the past?  the most famous dead tree english language encyclopedia), straw man attacks, ie rhetorical attacks which you use, and by extension support mchenry's.  

if you want to see wikipedia info about mchenry:

wikipedia article on mchenry

And for a good response to mchenry (linked from wiki)

Your defination of fact would certainly have to discussed in more detail, but I conjecture the only texts without factual error are religous texts.  and that's a whole another discussion.  

Since you claim that wikipedia has incorrect information, and by citing mchenry, support Britannica, then Britannica must have no errors. At least that seems to be your arguement.  And since you seem to have access to this error-free text, should I call refer to as rabbi, seer, guru, pope, or imam?

[ Parent ]

Six billion mobile observers (none / 0) (#98)
by ynotds on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 09:41:03 PM EST

Unlike I guess more than a few who frequent these parts, I try to spend regular time exploring meatspace. As mobile technology has started to take off, my thoughts on my wanders have increasingly run to the potential for those of us out there to serve as environmental monitors far beyond phoning traffic incident reports to drive time radio programs.

It would be useful to be able to report a leaking water main, a crack in a bike path or the local impact of severe weather to a central clearing house which might eventually be able to even mobilise passing citizens to action and diminish our unhealthy dependency on the never sufficient reserve capacity of professionalised emergency services.

-- Neither your faith nor your job absolves your responsibility.

Nice (none / 1) (#101)
by Russell on Sat Apr 16, 2005 at 12:33:20 AM EST

Idea! Russell

[ Parent ]
Probably useless to me (none / 0) (#99)
by creature on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 10:20:53 PM EST

The only time I ever find myself wanting access to the internet when I'm out and about is when I'm standing in a record store, wondering if the cheap CDs are worth the money. Apart from that, I have no real need for it all. Of course, if it did happen it's only a matter of time before some prick decides it'll be a great idea to blog from wherever they happen to be, so the informational plaque will drown in a sea of noise of tourists blogging about what they had for lunch there. It might work better to come up with a machine-readable standard for URLs and then let cellphones and PDAs read it. You see a statue when you're out and about? Zap your PDA across it and it remembers the link for later. Once you get home you can look up the details of the statue you were looking at. It might not be as utopian as it's not as immediate, but it would be pretty easy to do.

Interesting (none / 0) (#100)
by Russell on Sat Apr 16, 2005 at 12:31:44 AM EST

A kind of physical temporary bookmark. Interesting idea! Russell

[ Parent ]
Needs new businesses and a seperation of concerns (none / 0) (#102)
by OzJuggler on Sat Apr 16, 2005 at 06:44:31 AM EST

More useful applications of location-aware mobile devices have been hashed out elsewhere. I'm fairly sure the eggheads at the MIT Media Lab made some prototype head-mounted display which could detect barcodes painted on walls and overlay extra information about the barcode on top of what the user was seeing. It could recognise parts and overlay the rest of the schematic to help you assemble something. This was like a reality markup language system.

What you're talking about is more of a location annotation system and not nearly as useful. Discovering applications for these things is easy - just find every existing website which requires a street address as its main input to a form, and then deploy that to phones. It's a request-response protocol so you'll only get spam in the form of popup adverts, or maybe none at all since the mobile service would be subscription based.

The benefit is merely the slight convenience of having the application already aware of where you are. It's only saving you typing in three short lines (which admittedly on a phone is still a big plus). There is now new fun or useful functionality that becomes feasible because of this idea because it is already feasible. This idea doesn't change anything.

Related issue: WAP was monopolised. Your phone company is your sole supplier of wireless apps because the phone company thinks you're using "a phone". Never mind that phones stopped being phones the day someone added an address book function. Phone companies want to have their cake and eat it too. That is why the provision of voice and data was tied together - whereas they should not be. More on that in a moment.

As long as you take the hands-free kit with you everywhere you go, the O2 XDA 2 is a very spiffy option. It costs a truckload of cash. It's a GSM phone. It's a PDA. Built in 802.11 for the eggheads. It also allows a GPS PCMCIA card to be plugged in, which together gives you what you're asking for, right now. No wishing required.

What's lacking for devices like this is actual location-sensitive applications to run on it, accessing one or more location databases. One obvious bottleneck in the development of such applications is that very few people have an XDA (or similar). The low uptake is likely due to its extortionate price and the perception of PDAs as being small PCs and therefore being difficult or "geeky". Once these two factors change, there will be a way to make money out of location-sensitive apps in a way that does not tie you to your voice carrier (the phone company). Then a free market of wireless apps will be created. Spam would not be an issue... The location alerts would be pushed from a company that would be one of several competing providers to which you could subscribe. The least annoying one wins more subscriptions. The one that lets YOU configure what YOU want to receive wins the most.
Then you'll get what you want.

"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.

E911 (none / 0) (#104)
by dvint1 on Sun Apr 17, 2005 at 05:35:08 PM EST

E 911 or its derivatives thru out the world will force all handsets to have a GPS unit in them. Agree, the biggest missing link is the applications...

[ Parent ]
Bring it on!! (none / 0) (#103)
by dvint1 on Sun Apr 17, 2005 at 05:32:01 PM EST

Yes please :) Also found these guys GeoVector Corporation They seem to be using the handsets with compasses in, so you point like a mouse in the real world. Now who wouldnt want a mouse on their PC?? I am sure if the internet was around like it is today when the mouse came out, all the nay sayers that are here would be damning the mouse too. For me yes spam would suck, but something like what geovector has would be cool, as the user opts in by pointing, like saying, sure ill click that link, and if 10mil popups live behind that link, on my head be it.

QRCodes (none / 0) (#106)
by fuchikoma on Wed Apr 20, 2005 at 02:30:21 PM EST

In Japan, a 2D barcode glyph called "QRCode" is in common use. It's a little less error-tolerant, but faster than Semacodes, and a LOT more popular with the mobile phone market.

You see QRCode links in magazine ads and articles, in corners of websites, even on personal stamps. They're commonly used for hyperlinks and business cards.

Actually, I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think with DoCoMo's (/Sony's) new FeliCa e-wallet technology, there's a way to snap a shot of a QRCode for a product, then instantly buy it online. At least that's the impression I got from the TV commercials.

Now the bad part of this is that any data services are still prohibitively expensive, slow, and proprietary over in North America here, so people tend to avoid them like the plague. I don't think we'll see anything like this until that changes. :(

Bleh (none / 0) (#107)
by morewhine on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:23:39 AM EST

I already find cell phones (other than an emergency prepaid phone with 30 minutes loaded onto it to keep in the car in case it breaks down) to be a giant waste of money.  Vonage is $25/month for unlimited time.  Though most people sign up for a cell phone contract in the range of $29-39/month, the average cell phone bill is now $50.64, because inevitably many people use more than their allotted minutes.  Anyway, is it really necessary (unless, I suppose one works "on-call" and needs to be contacted at all times) to tell your mate that you just picked out some crip lettuce at the grocery store?


crip=crisp (n/t) (none / 0) (#108)
by morewhine on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:24:47 AM EST

[ Parent ]
You're WAY Too Conservative (none / 0) (#109)
by twestgard on Sun May 29, 2005 at 11:29:52 PM EST

On one Kuro5hin page is an article about some halfwit who spent god knows how much time teaching a machine to take an expired version of the SAT. Teaching a machine is a fine idea, but what a pointless task this machine was assigned!

On another Kuro5hin page is another article who sees cell phones replying to stimuli in the realworld environment, but he expects that stimuli to be preprogrammed. What's missing here!?

I want a cell phone that uses AI to analyze unprogrammed realworld stimuli. Now, that's a goal! How about a phone that provides advice like this: "Last time your blood pressure was this high and you had this little sleep, you ended the day by breaking two years of sobriety." Or, "The person in the green shirt by the potted plant is staring at you and the body language indicates sexual receptivity." Now, that would be an advance in technology.

Thomas Westgard
Illinois Mechanics Liens

Physical World Hyperlinks | 109 comments (66 topical, 43 editorial, 0 hidden)
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