Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Nokia Open Lab Pt 2 – the geo-location workshop.

September 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Categories: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians |

Steve Lawson and Phil Campbell at Nokia Open Lab, by the format of the Friday was intro, followed by four sessions –

  • Join the Community.
  • Join the Journey
  • Join the Fun
  • Join and Collaborate.

Each session had a ‘facilitator’ who did a lil’ intro spiel and the set-up to the group time. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I’ve no idea how the first session went, as I slept straight through it! I’d set my alarm early, but after getting to bed late the night before, struggling to get to sleep even then, I managed to miss it. The last 10 minutes of the discussion were interesting, but I can’t really comment further.

So the first full session I was in was Join the Journey – thinking about location-based services, concepts and uses. What was most interesting was how few people in this group of early adopting tech-pimped-out uber-geeks were regularly using geo-services other than geo-tagging flickr photos and using SatNav to not get lost (as one person commented, ours is the last generation that will ever get lost – more on that in a bit…)

This was the first point at which the blue-sky techno-utopians and the more cautious person-centred practo-geeks divided – the utopians were talking about the possibility of RFIDing everything from you fridge to your car keys, embedding chips, tracking your kids – loads of stuff that sounded like a sci-fi writer in the late 60s describing the year 2001. Some of it clearly already happening.

On the flip side, you had every Brit there freaking out at the civil liberties implications of all this, given that we’re already the most surveilled nation on earth, and wondering about how effective measures to limit access to the tracking data could be.

It was also the first point at which I threw in the idea that maybe removing trouble, problems, obstacles and the like from the mundane might not be a good thing. I slightly facetiously said ‘but what about all the good serendipitous stuff that can happen when you lose your keys?’ or words to that effect. It was a serious point, but I didn’t really follow it up til Adam Greenfield’s excellent session the next day.

So some cool discussion, some great ideas that got lost in the mass of un-filtered un-sorted suggestions, and for me the first chance to get a handle on where people were coming from… I don’t think I knew anyone in my group at this point, so was slightly unsure how to pitch my usual mixture of ‘things that are possible useful to the discussion’ and ‘things that are clearly random bollocks but might be either funny or illuminating in their absurdity… or perhaps best ignored’.

So one thing that we didn’t get onto was the use of Geo-locational services for musicians. The uses are HUGE. Most of them musicians I know have already got SatNavs – getting lost on the way to a gig is too costly a mistake for them to miss the chance to avoid it.

But the ability to map a tour, plot any media captured on it onto it, group crowd-sourced flickr-photos by location and date, and even to network a street team by geo-tagged data are the stuff that every band in the world should be jumping on. It’s the kind of stuff that a company like Nokia ought to be all over, given the branding potential, and the way they can produce THE ubiquitous device for such a service. (more on this in an N95 for musicians review, coming soon!) Some of the stuff that came up in the group was really inspirational with regard to seeing the possibilities of all this. For some of what’s possible, and what’s coming, check out Sportstracker and Nokiavine.

Some bands are already using it, like the NIN stunt with the geo-cached tickets.

Location based services don’t appear to be the kind of thing that in and of themselves will make millions for anyone beyond TomTom and Garmin. But they are things that musicians and media producers can use to filter their own or their audiences content by location, and that can make it more interesting, more relevant and more sexy. All fine qualities.

Sessions 3 and 4 coming soon…

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No Comments so far ↓

  • ilicco

    “ours is the last generation that will ever get lost”

    – and that will be a BIG shame as i have said for years (ever since missing a flight from Darwin to Bali 18 years ago and had to fly to Singapore and get a 40 hour train ride to get there…)

    you can’t have “an Adventure”…. without having an Adventure…

  • Anne

    Oh ye of little faith. While you may be able to find yourself on a map, you can easily get lost if you don’t know where you’re headed… metaphorically and literally.

  • steve

    Yeah, I intended to address that in the post, Anne, but it was already too long by the time I got to it 🙂

    True, knowing where you’re going in no way prevents us from picking the wrong destination…!

    Also, batteries run out, satnavs break, and gadgets are left on the train…

    The danger is not not getting lost, it’s forgetting to develop spatial thinking, to develop route-memory, to use some intuition and whatnot… I’ll write more about this when I get to the post about Adam Greenfield’s talk. Looking forward to everyone else’s takes on it too!

  • glenn letham

    indeed Steve, the possibilities for the musician are endless… routing, navigation and sharing locations are just the start. Suggestions for play lists based on your location, offering a coupon or free song based on your location, meeting new friends and expanding your social network based on your location and preference in music… the pieces are there. Then there’s the mobile apps that can listen to a snippet of a song, identify the artist, let you buy the track, provide concert locations near you, and even suggest similar artists that you may like etc… the sky is the limit. thanks for your thoughts man… well done.. Glenn (the geo guy!)

  • Micki Krimmel

    We have all sorts of ways of “getting lost” and we continue to do it no matter what new tools we create to avoid it. That’s the thing about technology. It’s never perfect. It fits right in with the rest of life, dunnit? So toss aside your old man sentimentality and embrace evolution! 😉

  • steve

    haha! thanks Micki, I’m well in touch with my inner ol’-dude 😉

    I’m a very happy ‘n’ satisfied sat-nav owner. We bought one when we had to drive from London to Amsterdam and then to Geneva, before heading back to London, and knew that it would save us money on the trip by a) not getting lost and driving around aimlessly and b) helping us avoid toll roads.

    What it didn’t tell us is that to get to Geneva w/out the toll roads, you need to drive through the effing Alps, down some pretty scary treacherous roads, which at that time of year were covered in snow and had us sliding all over the place praying not to die…

    So I’m sure a GPS/weather/traffic news mashup would kick ass. I think it was Glenn who mentioned that TomTom now have a technology that ‘crowd source’ the speed of traffic from multiple TomTom users… great idea, given the massive fuel wastage that goes on in traffic jams. Shame they don’t reinvest some of the money they’re making into setting up mass transport solutions in LA 😉

    But anyway, you can RFID your keys if you want, I’ll keep playing the ‘where the fuck did I leave my keys?’ game, and trying to remember to put them in the weird hippy hanging pocket thing that’s on the wall behind the door where my wife wisely puts anything I might need on my way out… :p