October 24th, 2006
Last night’s first-ever Washington Mobile Monday covered the concept of digital graffiti, which consists basically of public screens that display the content of text messages sent to a particular shortcode or phone number. We played around with an example last night and it was a ton of fun — imagine blog-style collective conversation, but projected on a wall in front of us.
Stephen Randall, CEO of LocaModa, which developed the Wiffiti digital graffiti tool we were using, talked about rolling the technology out in coffeeshops and bars, possibly linked to social networking applications (hmmmmm, let’s find the profile of the person who just wrote that I was hot!) as well as on huge screens in public places (imagine a massive public conversation board in Times Square, also connected to the web and hence readable from anywhere in the world).
Immediate political applications are probably few, though digital graffiti could be used as a way to involve people at political events, social media-style, just as it’s being used at concerts now. The legendary Alan Rosenblatt, Dr. Digipol himself, did come up with one idea that jumped out at me — digital graffiti screen as a public billboard, inviting people to register their support of a given policy. “Honk if you love Jesus,” except with the results tallied and displayed before your eyes. An interesting way to show the breadth of support or opposition to a candidate or measure.
Interestingly, Stephen discussed digital graffiti as one example of very cool concept that I’d never thought of — the cell phone as a remote control. People often think of the web/phone interaction in terms of pushing content to the phone, but the device can also turn around and be used to interact with a kiosk or other display. He used the example of a hotel lobby having a wall-displayed Google map that people could control using text messages from a cell phone.
Great presentation, and a great crowd, too — I got caught up in several top-notch conversations with people who really knew what they were talking about. Kudos to event organizers Julie Germany and Kathie Legg. Don’t miss the next one!