Mobile Social Software from the Inside Out

Location: Marina Ballroom F Level: Novice

The last 10 years have seen an R&D craziness on location-based services and their social applications (a.k.a Mobile Social Software). Automatic friend-finders, place-based annotation tools, or sexy-looking mobile games have been developed in Europe, North America, and Asia, trying to rely on location-aware capabilities of various mobile artifacts. All tried to engage users in activities in which the others’ whereabouts is the cornerstone of the interactions.

While there has been a lot of buzz and excitement regarding these applications, social location-based services seems to behave like many other ubiquitous computing applications: they have troubles reaching a more mature market. These services, although compelling and techno-friendly at first, fail at the user level. Understanding the reasons for this failure will provide an interesting case study to exemplify the main issues regarding ubiquitous computing.

This talk will give a critical overview of research on multiuser location-aware applications to highlight the main reasons of this situation. Results will be summarized from the studies done in research lab / R&D structures and companies. The session will also propose alternative models and scenarios about how the development of mobile social software might unfold in the near future.

Photo of Nicolas Nova

Nicolas Nova

Media and Design Lab

Cognitive scientist by training, Nicolas works as a user experience and foresight researcher at the Media and Design Lab (Swiss Institute of Technology, EPFL) and as a consultant for IT/video-game companies. His current research is geared towards the study of gaming experiences (virtual worlds, tangible interactions, ubiquitous computing). The underlying issue he is interested in is the hybridization of digital and physical environments, as well as the implications of such phenomena in terms of social, cognitive and design research. He is also the author of Pasta & Vinegar, a weblog about emerging technologies usage and foresight and is co-producer of the LIFT conference in Geneva


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