Thursday, January 11, 2007

From information highway to social hint networks

At the end of the 1990s Finnish youth were far ahead of the rest of Europe, if not of the world when it comes to texting (SMS messaging) and communication acrobatics -- ability to use and misuse digital tools (mobile phone and the Internet) for their own purposes and with as less money as possible. I would claim that Finnish (and European, Asian and American) youth are still settlers of new phenomena and practices. We suft no longer at the INFORMATION highway -- we dwell on social hint networks where FUN is the key motivator.

Malcolm Gladwell (BOOK: The Tipping Point 2000) created a nice picture to concretize the change. With Tipping point mr. Gladwell 'refers to the moment when something unique becomes common'. I believe that youth are the trendsetters and that social hint networks are one step closer to the ubiquitous society.

In the 1990s such 'unique' thing was SMS messaging. Currently tapping on the tiny keyboard is as normal as it gets. I believe that the next thing will be 'fun and games' and we are already approaching the Tipping Point. There are several reasons for my belief: 1) Information overload and personalisation, 2) Mr. Kawashima's BrainTraining is a hit amongst japanese seniors, 3) user created content, 4) online communities and 5) cultural change.

To put it short: people look for relevant information through right devices at right time (multitasking, cross media, digital device armoury). Online communities such as Second Life blur the line between real and virtual. For example American Apparel and Reuters are active in the virtual world, and some members of the community make real money by renting a virtual hoverboard or selling neat virtual items at the eBay. Digital games are no longer just for teenage boys. Thanks to Nintendo, Sony EyeToy, SingStar and mobile game developers -- the gaming will change and start to interest wider audiences. Cultural change refers to change from local to glocal, from sequential to real time, from information to entertainment and from 'them' to 'we'.


jaba said...

Hey, you have a nice blog. :)

Anyway, I think one very important piece of technology was missing from your 1-5 list, or maybe it's just hidden behind some of those.


The devices tracking our location via satellite are rapidly evolving to a commodity items - one can already integrate a GPS unit to a cell phone by just spending a hundred euros or so. Geocaching, geographical tagging of your photos and stuff like that is already here. I would be surprised if games wouldn't start to utilize GPS in some way in the near future.

SonjaK said...

Thanks! According to the visions "everything" (objects, items, devices) will be networked in the ubi-society. All of us will have innumerable number of digital devices to fill our entertainment, communication and information needs. The most relevant thing is to be seen, to leave traces and experience everything and anything.

BUT you are right, location data is increasingly utilized. So far geocaching has been a geeky hobby. But for how long? I would love to see an innovative mobile game concept utilizing GPS or other location technologies. Maybe there will already be something interesting on view at the GDC07 in March?

jaba said...

Some GPS ideas:

- A Pac-Man clone where the labyrinth would be some area of the town defined by the players. Then one player would be the Pac-dude and the others would be the ghosts. Movement would require the players to actually run around the town. :-)

Although I think something like this has already been done.

- A 3rd person war game utilizing both GPS and those infrared guns familiar from MegaZone.

- An adventure/RPG game. One could create a character and then move around the town. Advancing in the game would require actual talking to real people in common places, such as shops, bars, theaters.... oh wait, I think this one is already present and is called "life". But not all of us have one, so this artificial version would be good for them. ;-)

SonjaK said...

Yep, PacManhattan and AR Pacman to name a few. Also last year there was an exciting seminar/event in New York organized by EyeBeam.

Come Out and Play brough up several concept related to mobile / locative / pervasive gaming.