Drew Cogbill | Thesis Blog

works in progress.

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Parsons MFA Design and Technology 2009 Symposium, May 2-3, MFADT09

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Next weekend, I’ll be presenting Pigeon at the Parsons MFA Design and Technology 2009 Symposium being held in New York City.  The event will have I’m on a panel with the theme of “Take It With You: The Mobile Movement” on May 2 from 5-6:30pm.

All of my friends and classmates will also be screening their short films, exhibiting their installations, and playing on their instruments.

Complete weekend schedule (pdf).

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April 25th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Weekness at GDC

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My team and I are at the Game Developers Conference this week, thanks to Nokia.  We presented and demoed our game, Weekness, today.

Weekness turns your text messaging habits into a game.  In one player mode, users guess who text messages were sent to and received from, from weeks past.  In the two players mode, uers play in real time on one phone with another user to guess each other’s most often text messaged words.  In both modes, a new social interactions can be created, extending the pre-existing socail usages of the phone.

Rabia Malik , Yumi Endo and I were the Weekness development team.

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March 25th, 2009 at 7:18 pm

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web4dev Day 1

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It’s the second day of web4dev conference hosted at UNICEF.  Those attending the conference are both development professionals looking for technological solutions and super techy people already working in the area.  There’s been lots of exploration into how mobile and web can be combined to create social change. Dr. Christopher Dye, Director, Health Information, Office of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria & Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization:

We live in a world of hugely under exploited information.

There has also been talk both the lack of information coming out of places that need assistance and the overwhelming level of information needed to be distributed and analyzed.  Dr. Dye also emphasized the need for connectivity, which was later further developed as the need for access to participation by Steve Vosloo.
Enabling access to participation

View more presentations from Steve Vosloo. (tags: to web4dev09)

Steve talked about participatory culture in the context of Africa.  It is light and lo-tech.  It is mobile phone based.  It’s not new, it’s different: cheaper, easier, faster, and more visible.  Referring back to the wealth of unused information, Vosloo emphasized that information systems need to be created that allow people to send data up where it can be processed and analyzed and then sent back down.  Steve also referenced Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody:

The barriers to self-organization of have collapsed.

Shirky, appropriately, followed Vosloo’s talk, and talked about 5 patterns that can be applied to communications.  Quoting WhiteAfrican quoting Shirky (my favorite quote too):

Access to information is such an abstraction, but mainly what people use communications platforms for is for communication, which everyone seems so surprised about.

Shirky stated that the information communicators desire is personal.  The seemingly irrelevant everyday communication builds social capital that can be used in crisis situations.  Basic communication is from point A to point B.  Shirky stated that successful development projects he had seen involved at least a few of these types of communication:

  1. conversation (exchange between 2 people)
  2. broadcast (1 to many)
  3. aggregation
  4. multi-casting

I feel there are some real implications of how to speak about and continute to develop Pigeon. Pigeon is designed to allow participation in whatever way users decide is best for their communication needs.  They can share seemingly unimportant life updates to increase social capital. Conversation, broadcast, aggregation, and multi-casting are all parts of the system, and with this contextual framework, can be even further emphasized.

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February 12th, 2009 at 3:06 pm


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Through a DT connection, I’m going to be able to attend the UN web4dev conference hosted by UNICEF this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  (Thanks Eric!)

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February 9th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

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Contact Adding Script Prototype

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Now you can add contact on Pigeon if you know the member number of your desired contact.  Figuring out how to accomplish this was a bit more complicated than the sign up code.

Here’s an old map of my database schema, which I have been referring to and helps to explain my logical organization: dbschema.pdf.

The contactLink table is used to join to members together and make them contacts.  I had to change my plan for organizing this table to make it easier to approve or decline contact requests.  There needs to be an option for ignoring a request and dealing with it later, but for the purposes of quick prototyping, this option was put on hold to get the main funcitonality going.

In my old prototype, I had faked the ability to leave messages for only your contacts.  Only this functionality needs to be added for a round of interesting user testing to occur.

Phone access:

  • Direct local (713) 568-7265
  • Skype +99000936 9996079900

contactsadding.zip contains all of the Pigeon code up to this point.

Written by drewcogbill

September 21st, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Prototypes, Uncategorized

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2007 Conferences

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Here’s two conferences from 2007 that I should spend more time looking into:

Web2ForDev (many of the presentations are avaliable on video on the site)

UN meets Silicon Valley

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September 21st, 2008 at 10:56 am

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NYTimes Consumption Map

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NYTimes “What Your Global Neighbors Are Buying” Map has interesting information and great design.  What makes this map particularly effective for me is the way the rectangles shrink and grow between tabs.

I wonder if mobile phones fall under electronics, household goods, or recreation, or, really, maybe I wonder where they should fall.

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September 13th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

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Goals and Motivations

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At the end of my summer explorations, here are my goals and motivations going into the thesis academic year:

  • Create a way for people living poverty to communicate with greater ease and affordability
  • Deliver ‘the internet’ in some way via voice and/or SMS
  • Prototype work in Belize as this is the context I’m most familiar with
  • Make a sustainable system - the best way to facilitate this seems to be by creating a for-profit or non-loss business

These are things I need to cull through before class starts (beyond my paper and presentation that are due):

  • Interviews that need to be transcribed
  • Finishing maps which I’ve already made notes and observations for
  • A bit of prototyping
  • Reading through my increasing pile of academic papers

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August 24th, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Visual Think Map

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July 30th, 2008 at 8:56 am

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Upcoming Conferences

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ICTD 2009 in Qatar

MobileActive08 in South Africa

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July 29th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

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