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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware

Net Sticky Notes All Over London 201

An anonymous reader writeswith a link to a BBC story which mentions in passing the Urban Tapestries project for distributed, collaborative location-based note-taking, excerpting "In practice this means giving people a specially-equipped mobile phone that allows them to wander around central London and leave virtual notes for other people to read by writing them on the phone and then 'sticking' them to a building. It works because the position of each phone is constantly tracked so when a note is written the place can be noted - when someone else goes to the same place, they can read the note."
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Net Sticky Notes All Over London

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  • first note (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:45AM (#9619343)
    first virtual note you will see:

    "call jenny for a good time: 555-0634"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    just keeps getting worse...
  • Brave new World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfreak&eircom,net> on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:47AM (#9619355) Homepage Journal
    Here, give us your exact location so we know where you are and what your doing at every moment of the day

    It's FUN!!!!!

    Also if you want to read the NY Times, get a passport, bank, shop, buy things or in fact breath, you will need to give someone complete access at all times to every facet of your live so that you may be served better. Remember it's not data rape if you consent.

  • by jubitzu ( 750748 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:47AM (#9619358)
    ...scavenger hunts?

  • by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:48AM (#9619365)
    Let me guess - viewing each note = text message, or at least bunch of GPRS data transfer. And if you think that's free...

    1. Make location-based 'text note' service
    2. Add stupid people (supply: near infinite)
    3. PROFIT!!!!
  • by ForestGrump ( 644805 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:48AM (#9619366) Homepage Journal
    imagine this:
    -I urinated on that corner last night, use other side of street.

    -Lonely? looking for sex? inquire within.

    -Missing dog...50 pound reward.
  • Sweet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RTPMatt ( 468649 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:51AM (#9619373) Homepage
    This could make for some truly kick ass scavenger hunts.

  • More Spams (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:52AM (#9619376)
    First, unwanted calls from marketeers,
    then unwanted sms'es,
    then unwanted NOTES!
    What's next?
  • Bathroom Grafitti (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:53AM (#9619380) Homepage
    Why do get the idea that this will be bathroom grafitti all over again?
  • Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laserbeak ( 794029 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:53AM (#9619385)
    A city could use this to their advtantage, by leaveing electrnoic notes near landmarks with information about the landmark... could boost tourism.
  • Geocaching (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nighttime ( 231023 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:55AM (#9619389) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this similar to geocaching? Previous /. stories here [slashdot.org], here [slashdot.org] and here [slashdot.org].

    The official Geocaching website [geocaching.com].
    • Re:Geocaching (Score:4, Informative)

      by toesate ( 652111 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @05:29AM (#9619607) Homepage Journal
      Isn't this similar to geocaching?

      Well, technically, there is a different -

      1. Geocaching is primarily GPS based, and locating position with the help of satellites that provides longitude and latitude coordinates, and is very accurate.

        This Urban Tapestries is GSM/GPRS based, using a mobile phone, locating a position with the help of surrounding mobile phone base stations. The accuracy of a position is dependent on the site topology, and could be anywhere around 10-50 meters radius in urban context, for example.

      Application wise, I think each serve slightly different purpose too -

      1. Geocaching requires the seeker to actively seek the cache, and is primarily hobby based.
      2. Urban Tapestries will probably do a information push when one is within a vincinity, and may not require one to actively seek it, except to give Urban Tapstries permission to push. This also means that it could be subscription based.

      Theoretically, it could be possible to use geocaching caches(it's data) in GSM environment. However, the geocaching cache's seeker will probably have a harder time, as the cache will be very hard to find.

    • Isn't this similar to geocaching?

      You could use it for that. More likely it's just going to be a cross between bathroom literature [thewriting...estall.com] and geocities. Edifying stuff to be sure.

      We might have to think about how we erase the graffiti, and how we want to search the content. We might need to look for new meta-information. Already one commercial application stands out: a Google like interface to select the most useful comments in an area.

      Oh, and yeah, this would be awesome for geocaching! :)

    • My smartphone (Treo 600) has E911, so it's got a GPS receiver inside. Sure, it's imprecise, but if it knows where it is, within 5 blocks, why not give me a tappable map of the surrounding area from which I can select a note I see hanging in the air? Then I can use GeoCaching and NetStickies in a simple GUI that I already carry.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    - Don't go in - I had my phone stolen here
    - Lost - One mobile...
    - No WMD in here...
  • "Dave... (Score:5, Funny)

    by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:57AM (#9619398) Homepage Journal
    ... is a cunt"

    Can now be written absolutely ANYWHERE in central london :-D I just need to get one of these, write a script to post 'dave is a cunt' every 30 seconds, and spend a day on my pushbike!

    I wonder how it will work on elevators! "floor 2: Dave is a cunt" "floor 3: Davis is still a cunt"

    Can you say 'cunt' half a dozen times in a /. post without being automatically burnt to death? I may well find out!
  • by toesate ( 652111 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @03:59AM (#9619404) Homepage Journal
    The idea of public authoring sounds good, just think about wikipedia.org.

    However, the big problem lies in the possibilities for misuse, if accountability is not there. The liabilities that the tapestries information provides might be a privacy concern too, especially when it infringes someone else's privacy.

    For this to work, one way is to have some kind of moderation and meta-moderation capability on the quality of the information pasted to the buildings. ;)

  • by voudras ( 105736 ) <{gro.reyalstfiws} {ta} {sarduov}> on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:02AM (#9619417)
    before someone sticks a note like "this resturant sucks", which initiates some slander suit of some sort - ugh.
  • by howman ( 170527 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:04AM (#9619421)
    Stop looking at your phone... you just stepped in dog shit.
  • Privacy?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linsys ( 793123 ) <linsys@Nospam.intrusionsec.com> on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:06AM (#9619429) Homepage
    Well I guess the whole idea of personal privacy will go out the window with this.. Posted on every house will be the phone number, SSN of the people living there, CC numbers and any other info someone who hates you wants to post!! Can;t wait for the day someone posts "WILL BE GONE FOR THE NEXT WEEK, LINDA (some poor guys sister), LEFT THE KEY IN THE FLOWER POT, PLEASE FEED THE DOGS" comes home and place has been robed a few times!! GREAT IDEA (for Cops, Murderers, Robbers, Rapests, Identity Theft.. etc...)
    • Damn should have used the "Preview Button... " Post didn't get formated properly!

      #1 Hacker Game Site!
    • Good point--for this to take off, there should be an option to encrypt notes (SSL, perhaps?) with a password needed to decrypt them.
    • We don't have SSNs in the UK, we have NI (National Insurance) numbers. What is the obsession with keeping SSNs secret anyway?
      • Re:Privacy?? (Score:2, Informative)

        by linsys ( 793123 )
        Because LOTS of information can be discovered about someone with their SSN#, it's discovery can also be used for identity theft purposed...

        Almost everything is linked to someone SSN#, Bacnk Account, Loans, Criminal Record etc...

      • "What is the obsession with keeping SSNs secret anyway?"

        Some people seem to think that asking for your SSN is a way of identifying you. I dunno where they get that idea.
        • ... and this is a problem because of what?

          You know, sometimes you need to identify yourself. Sometimes other people need to know who you are.

          • This is a problem because they are wrong. There's no way to know who it is that just reeled off nine digits which pass the SSN checksum test. Your SSN says very little about the identity of the person producing it, but some people who should know better treat it as the Golden Ticket to lots of other information.

            I don't have a problem with identifying myself in sensible circumstances. I have a big problem with people who think that knowledge of my SSN means that someone is me.

            The problem with the SSN is
            • See, over here we tend to have more controls on how you can prove you are really you. Banks, for instance, require at least two of the following: passport, driver's licence, gun licence, birth certificate, armed forces ID card, police warrant card, (occasionally) some types of student card, and a few others, including pay slips, utility bills and other bank statments. Basically, anything issued by the Government is good enough, as long as at least two agree, and two of them have your NI number.


              • You have the same problem we do, then. Nick a nonphoto ID card and a gas bill, and you are in. The NI number adds nothing, but apparently some people think it does, and that's a problem.

                Personal identification needs two things: binding to the person (photo, biometric, etc.) and that it cost more to forge than the forgery is worth. All that other stuff on the card only says who is asserting the binding, or is private to the binding agency and nothing to do with authentication. Most "identification" car
                • Not at all. Opening a bank account requires two items of photo ID, or one item of photo ID *masses* of non-photo ID, all of which matches.
            • There's no way to know who it is that just reeled off nine digits which pass the SSN checksum test.

              It's worse than that. There is no "SSN checksum test" -- US SSNs have no checkdigit, with all that implies. (There are some numbers that are clearly "wrong", but checking those requires a look-up, not a simple algorithmic check. That won't catch accidentally (or deliberately) transposed or substituted (eg 8 for 3) digits.)

              There are plenty of other reasons why SSN makes a lousy database key (hence a lousy
              • Ah, thanks, I'd forgotten the exact mechanism. However it works, if you just make up a nine-digit number there's a nonzero chance that it cannot be an SSN, which at least discourages large-scale naive fakery.

                Anyway my point was that the privacy problem is not that SSNs are stored everywhere, but that they are used to gain access to other information they cannot and never were meant to secure. The sole legitimate use of SSNs is such that only a fool would use a stolen one, but they've been put to illegiti
  • We had somethhing like this at my school, UC San Diego. We were given PDAs that were able to access the wireless network on campus. One of the applicatoins that came preloaded allowed us to post messages that everyone could read, or post private notes that people on a short list could read. It was really fun for about three days, and then school started and we stopped using it.
  • by BlackHawk-666 ( 560896 ) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:13AM (#9619459) Homepage
    How about revenge stuff like:

    Owner not home from 8:30AM to 6:30PM, please rob.

    Smash my windows!

    I'm watching you, pervert!

    There's plenty of scope for use and abuse of this. You could tag a person's house as belonging to a paedophile, or claim they are a rapist, all without any sort of screening. Not good.

    • In spite of all the advantages that waypoint notes could have, and I see quite a few, I must agree with parent. I can only imagine the inevitable case where a stalker is being a menace, and as the frightened prey getting startling little jolts from the phone in her pocket when she runs into one of these virtual notes:

      You really should take your shirt off
      I can see you, little girl, can you see me?? >:)

      Not to say, of course, since she has triple-bolted all her doors and windows and would be quite d
    • Uhhuh. Logged, with your phone number. Not smart.

      Of course some dimwits will do it anyway, and cause trouble before they are caught, and we'll wind up with laws requiring the telcos to allow a subscriber to opt out of having his property tagged, and then the thing will die off and the three or four people who actually found a reason to read the tags will be upset.
    • A step in the right direction might be 24 or 48 hour mandatory expirations.
  • My first reaction to this was that it sounded really interesting because I couldn't think of an easy real-world analog. It's not like graffiti, because the notes aren't seen by everybody, you have to look for them. More like guestbooks. But not like guestbooks either, because you have to look for them too or you don't know they are there.

    Its really more like Usenet, except you have to physically go to where each newsgroup is instead of them coming to you. And like Usenet, if this type of thing ever became truly public I bet it would be vandalized by spammers and idiots and rendered practically unusable.
    • MMRLRPG (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bramez ( 190835 )
      Massive Multiplayer Real Live Role playing Game!!

      You could bring Leisure Suit Larry to the streets. Imagine walking around in London and getting "item" notes that can trigger access to "door" notes.
    • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @11:26AM (#9621936) Homepage
      I remember during the dot-bomb boom, there was some dude who was working on this product that plugged into your web browser. It was supposed to be the "next big thing" and he made some ungodly sum of money from selling it.

      Anyway, if you had the plugin, you could place a post-it style note onto web pages you visited. And people who had the same plugin could see it when they visited it. Seemed a sorta novel idea -- but one which was ripe for abuse (by users and advertisers alike). This cell phone concept sounds just like it.

      I remember the particular article because I think the writer said there were either lawsuits already pending (even though the product hadn't really gone "gold" yet) or at least threats of lawsuits. Heaven forbid some disgruntled consumer taint a dot-com brand by placing "The widgets sold here suck ass!" notes on a vendor's web site.

      In any case, I never heard of the product again (kinda like Pointcast). Probably best, but I still wonder what the name of the software was, who was the person who came up with it, and what happened to it.

      • ...if you had the plugin, you could place a post-it style note onto web pages you visited. And people who had the same plugin could see it when they visited it... ...but I still wonder what the name of the software was, who was the person who came up with it, and what happened to it.

        I remember this too, and I think that I had it installed at one point. The first name that came to mind is Alexa Internet [alexa.com], and I believe that some versions of their tool bar had the feature that you remember... although I co
      • I vaguely remember about the post-it notes thing too. It might have been called sticky-something?

        And incidentally, those widgets really do suck ass.
    • Its really more like Usenet, except you have to physically go to where each newsgroup is instead of them coming to you. And like Usenet, if this type of thing ever became truly public I bet it would be vandalized by spammers and idiots and rendered practically unusable.

      In one of my classes, the group I was in did a project on this type of technology. We came up with the idea of different channels, some public, some private, and optional 'exclusion zones' where messages could either be only posted by auth
  • geonotes (Score:3, Informative)

    by neodym ( 413008 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:28AM (#9619477)
    There is (was?) a project at KTH/SiCS in stockholm with a similar concept called GeoNotes [geonotes.sics.se]. This link is unfortunately not working right now, here [ercim.org] is a description of the concept.
  • by ralphm ( 794343 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:36AM (#9619489)
    Hmm, this looks a lot like the Location Linked Information [mit.edu] work done at MIT by Matt Mankins. The Urban Tapestries site mentions that they eventually want a distributed server system for Urban Tapestries. Everybody could set up their own server. The Location Linked Information project already has this in its architecture. It is based on Jabber, and the server side component, as well as a lot of details (both technical and 'marketing') can be found on the site mentioned above.
    • Oh, and by the way, LLI has a classification system, where other users can rate the 'information nuggets' attached to their location. Nasty stuff like advertisements, offensive notes and other 'Location Spam' can be given a lower classification. LLI allows to filter on essentially any kind of (meta-)information, so you don't have to see everything that is being 'left behind', but only retrieve the stuff you are interested in.
  • Great, great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kahei ( 466208 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:37AM (#9619492) Homepage

    So now I can walk around and as well as being bombarded by ads, aggressive beggars (this is London, right), and suchlike traditional annoyances, I can ALSO read all the pathetic, repetitive thoughts of the erstwhile world capital's smug Nathan Barleys. I wonder how long before I get to the first "I am soooo stoned... hehehe" message. Probably about 20 seconds.

    Luckily, it'll only take about 20 more seconds before the whole system is taken over by drug dealers and prostitutes!

    Silver lining!

    PS I am not a bitter, misanthropic loner. I just really think it'll be that annoying.

    PPS Ok, I _am_ a bitter, misanthropic loner. You got me :)

  • Prior art (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @04:45AM (#9619508)
    Something similar was trialled a couple of years ago called "Mobile Grafitti" which basically worked the same way. You could write and "drop" messages anywhere and then others could pick them up.

    Unfortunately it got canned early on for several reasons, one was that locations were rather broad which meant that often the note made no sense as it covered a wide area and secondly because it was abused chronically.

  • if you walk in front of goverment building and you see the note saying that, "explosion" that would scare the hell out of everyone.
  • Already Been Done (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexpage ( 210348 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @05:09AM (#9619567)
    This is a simple idea, and a useful, community editable database of geographically linked information for London already exists in The Open Guide to London [openguides.org]. And it's licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license [creativecommons.org] which allows commercial usage. So all you'd need to do is implement some way of searching by OS co-ordinates (most nodes in the Guide have this information) which should be pretty trivial, and you're away.
    • Imagine giving tourists a cell phone with this system and specfic detail of an area in the database. You step close to some historic moment and you get a phone note with info about it. Meddle with the phone and place it back to the graffiti channel, and you'll get more info than you bargained for.
  • House Hunting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Allanon01 ( 673502 )
    This would be good for house hunting. See a for sale sign and instead of having to call the real-estate representative or talk to the owners, you can hear a note that gives more information about the house. Then only if you are still interested in the house you can make a call to the representative. This wouldl save you and the real-estate representatives time.
  • 'If you can read this a pigeon is shitting on your head'
  • Signal to noise? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LondonLawyer ( 609870 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @05:37AM (#9619631) Journal
    At first glance this looks like a great idea. I had visions of a sort of geographical wiki - a resource for users by users and with the potential to knit communities together with local information. East Enders is fiction - in London most of us barely even speak to our next door neighbours.

    I imagined it could help with directions to the nearest tube stop, police station or whatever. Lost tourists would be shepherded to safety. Public-spirited Londoners would post interesting and informative nuggets of local culture.

    Fun uses could include placing a string of notes by pubs to mark out a pub crawl or helping commuters hook up with that girl they see each day on the opposite platform and never get a chance to talk to.

    Then I snapped out of it.

    Without any sort of regulation or structure, this is just going to become a blizzard of virtual flyposting. We already see enough junk posters pasted up around the city. When you can do the equivalent digitally just by walking through a neighbourhood, when you know that the section of the population viewing that content will be a target market (young professionals, gadget-hungry kids) the opportunity to spam will just be way too hard to resist. Any worthwhile content will be buried amongst acres of worthless junk. At least with email you know that (apart from a relatively small number of spammers) most people with your address are people you would want to have your address. Even then, spam is still a huge problem.

    When every kid with a mobile can post inane junk and every 'guerilla marketer' can post repeatedly about their latest product, the signal to noise ratio quickly drops to unusable levels. The only advantage is that you don't see it unless you look for it.
    • communities? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fzz ( 153115 )
      You don't simultaneously join all chatrooms do you?

      This is just the same - you'd probably join just a few channels that interest you and that you trust (whatever that means). You could certainly imagine a hierarchical categorization like usenet groups, with some of those channels being moderated or closed to members only.

  • by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @06:04AM (#9619691)
    "You Stand Before the Museum of Natural History... Before you is a magnificently architected building, containing many marvels of the world. In front of it is a clear fountain, around which students sit and chatter. Beneath your feet is a manhole.

    A policeman (white aura) stands here, looking around in search of troublemakers.

    Visible exits are north, west, east, (down)."
  • Great just great (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thegoogler ( 792786 )
    now my anoyying neighbor will put one in front of my house that says "plays loud music at 9pm" o and what about notes in another languages?
  • by twoshortplanks ( 124523 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @06:09AM (#9619703) Homepage
    The open guide to London (and now many other places)

    http://london.openguides.org [openguides.org]

    Yep, it's another wiki (though one with a shedload of metadata bolted on)

  • I seem to remember this idea was originated by Douglas Adams quite a while back - as a pretty cool addon to H2G2. Switch on your guide and tadaaa.. instant information about where you are!!

    Unfortunately as many posts point out - we have an infinite supply of stupid people ... so sad.
  • Why is it that every time new technology emerges, initial ideas focus on musea ('virtual guide') and libraries ('virtual book'), when these places usually are short of cash, and their audience is mostly more interested in content, rather than technology?

    Or otherwise, such as in this case, some form of 'communicative art' for people with apparently too much time on their hands. Who would like to leave messages to random strangers, no less? And how reliable will this info be? Is this what we want to invest i

  • Imagine the view through my fantasy driving HUD. Some wanker dangerously overtakes me. Do I swear loudly and upset my kids? No, I simply tag him with a big glowing sticker saying "This guy drives like a c*nt"), perhaps adding to the few he already has. He can't get rid of them, they don't belong to him, they are just tracking the [RFID/GPS/?] transciever in his car. He might not care, but he'll find that next time he gets booked by the cops for speeding they are less lenient, or he's not allowed on the tol
  • by JRHelgeson ( 576325 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @08:13AM (#9620146) Homepage Journal
    They've invented virtual graffiti; the possibilities are endless.

    Imagine the digital scavenger hunts, finding the virtual phone number on the wall (no longer do I have to visit those nasty public restrooms and jot down numbers).

    This could be fun!
  • ...
    by dogs (as in K9)...
    walk around, leave "notes" for others to read and read their notes...we think they "mark" territory but nay - they are living "stickies"...
  • This would really help on those nights me and my friend go war-driving... Instead of marking it on his GPS, we could just leave a sticky note to mark the location so others can get in on the fun too. I can see it now:

    **begin phone convo**

    Girl: Hi honey what are you doing?
    Guy: Oh not much, I-
    **guy gets post it saying WiFi in the area**
    Guy: Uh honey, I'll call you back in a minute, I don't have very good reception here
  • Sounds Like Fun! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frightened_Turtle ( 592418 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @09:37AM (#9620689) Homepage
    When I was little, my brothers, some friends, and I would play a game we called, "Wild Goose Chase." One would hide a series of notes, each note giving a clue to find the next.

    Some clues would be in a code the others had to crack, sometimes they would be pictures, maps, hints about landmarks, or riddles. Sometimes just straight-forward directions to the next note. It was just as much fun trying to come up with clues for the notes as it was to be the ones trying to follow the notes. It was like a non-stop treasure hunt.

    We had a blast playing it! There was no prize at the end, no points -- though we occasionally took time into account. You had to think fast! There were a couple of times when one group would be looking for the notes while the hider was still actually hiding the notes. As competitive as we were, it's interesting to note that no one ever cheated playing this game.

    At times, it could become a fairly sophisticated game -- especially considering we were all under 10 years old at the time.

    I can easily see how these phones could be used to play this game all over again! Of course, at the end, rather than a note saying "You Win," it could be dinner and beer for everyone who reaches the end -- last one in buys!

  • Did anyone else read "distributed" as "disturbed"?

    man, I should go home... this job is killing me

  • It will be interesting to see if the younger generation of people, who have grown up with decentralized, DIY global publishing, develop a more critical sense of "authority" and "authorship". Libel is in the mind of the credulous receiver, when outrageous claims are unsupported. Traditional broadcast media, including newspapers and pamphlets, cultivated an "official" status, ultimately even pretending to be "objective", a common misconception in the 20th Century. Once access to publishing is democratized wit
  • Graffiti (Score:3, Funny)

    by liam193 ( 571414 ) * on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @01:02PM (#9623024)
    This bring a whole new twist to graffiti. Virtual markings on buildings.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson