Free your phone a few words from OpenMoko

Open Moko phone

Dave forwarded a very clever email from the guys behind the OpenMoko project. I have quoted a lot from the email but left out the part in the middle about the specs of the hardware and software.

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.”

Mark Weiser wrote those words almost 15 years ago in a Scientific American article titled, “The Computer for the 21st Century.” In it, he coined the term “ubiquitous computing”, and proposed a set of ground rules for devices of the 21st century. Temporally, we're here. Technologically, we're close. But everyone still seems to be talking about ubiquitous computing like a mirage on desert road: it's always the same distance away. Sometimes looking at common every day objects with a fresh perspective yields interesting
new ideas. Today we're going to propose that the foundation for ubiquitous computing is already here. All that is stopping us from going forward is change of context.

Almost everyone we know has a mobile phone. Mobile phones have become part of the fabric of everyday life. Does this mean that the mobile phone is the ubiquitous computing device we've all waited for? Currently, no. But with a subtle change we would argue, yes.

Mobile phones are closed environments created with a mobile context in mind. But this concept is limiting; a mobile phone has the potential to be a platform that can do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. If mobile phones were based on open platforms, they would have the potential to bring computing to people in a ways traditional computers cannot. Mobile phones can become ubiquitous computers.

Ubiquitous computing, however, does not simply mean computers that can be carried to work, to the home, to the beach, and to the movies. Ubiquitous computers must know where they are, and then must be able to merge into the environment.

We put GPS functionality into the Neo1973, because when your phone simply knows its location, it can adapt its behavior in significant ways without even a hint of artificial intelligence. How can devices disappear into the background? To be honest, we have far more questions than answers here. But do we know what is needed for exploring this idea. Developers must have unrestricted access to hardware at all times. Being able to control the microphone, for example, will allow phones to sense ambient noise. A simple
program could prevent your phone from ringing while you're in a conversation.

We will always try our absolute best to give you devices that are as open as possible. Our goal is freeing end-users and businesses alike from proprietary constraints. We're about encouraging people to modify and personalize their software to support their individual needs. Building products as we do, we strive to enable people to connect and communicate in new and relevant ways, using their own languages and their own symbols.

We want your involvement in OpenMoko. Now is a great time for us to work together. You'll have our full support. We're dedicated to helping you “Free Your Phone.” And we're always looking, listening, and hungry for new things. It is our goal to be totally market driven.

To be market-driven requires a willingness to experiment. OpenMoko will provide discounted phones to people in “improbable” markets. We're interested in what people in these markets can do with our products, whether they can use them at all, or what it would have to be like for them to become customers.

We will start out with the assumption that our product may find customers in previously ignored markets; that uses no one imagined when the product was designed will be found; and that Neo1973 will be bought by customers outside our field of vision and even unknown to our sales force.

We need you to talk to us. Tell us what you want. We promise we will listen. Your feedback will help evolve our roadmap. The real power of an open phone comes not from any one of these devices; it emerges from the interaction of all the users of “freed phones.” We can create true ubiquitous computing in Weiser's terms. This will be the computer of the 21st century.

At this point, we should tell you why we chose the name “Neo1973.” “Neo” means new. Dr. Marty Cooper (the inventor of the mobile phone) made the first call ever in 1973.

We believe that an open source mobile phone can revolutionize, once again, the world of communication. This will be the New 1973.

Join us. “Free Your Phone.”


The OpenMoko Team

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The TV watching generations finally catergorised

TV on loose stones and bricks

I've been thinking about this for quite some time but never really put it down anywhere till I wrote this email on the backstage mailing list. Yes I also hate catergorisations like this because they group people in too tight a category but this is only a thought.

  • 1st generationMainstream

    Tend to be stuck to the Broadcast Schedule, will get home to watch a certain thing, will see lots of adverts etc. Will tend to have Cable, Sky (satellite) or Freeview (over the air broadcast). Uses a video recorder to catch up on stuff missed but prefer to watch stuff live
  • 2nd generationTape it for later

    They tend to watch live events, browse TV and tape/vivo/record everything they watch a lot (such as shows). They skip adverts but still see them. Still aware of the Broadcast Schedule and subscribes to Sky or Cable. Uses the internet a bit for web 1.0 type applications (email, browsing). May buy shows legally from the itunes store.
  • 3rd generationOn Demand

    Completely off the schedule, no idea which channel things come from or what time there on. Rely on friends recommendations or social networks to tell what's on. Owns a laptop or has a computer device (such as xbox) setup with there TV. Tends not to browse TV and does not subscribe to Sky or Cable but watches a lot of TV content, sometimes more that previous generations. Keeps up with a lot of American shows. Watches shorter TV clips and amateur and pro-amateur media online.
  • 4th generationThere is no spoon

    Same as 3rd generation but sees all content as remixable and shareable. Can't understand why mixing content is a bad thing. Uploads content to online sites and shares a lot for social capital. May not even own a TV but has access to a large connection (broadband). Uses Torrent sites including private trackers. May watch a equal amount of pro-amateur/amateur content with pro TV content and may have a podcast/videocast of their own. Owns at least 2 computers, a mobile device which can play video, maybe a console
    and has a home network of somekind. May still buy content legally but is frustrated by


    and the lack of content.

These are my own views and should not be taken as the views of the BBC or factually correct.


Obviously there's stages between the generations (nothing is black and white like that), like someone who watches everything on demand but also tunes in for Torchwood every week (what day was it on again?).

I expect people will slowly climb through the generations and this will take some time. For example their are a lot people who can be categorised in the 1st Generation but there are also a growing 2nd generation which at some point will make up the mainstream. I also suspect the changes will happen faster as time moves on. So you won't get the 100 years of 1st generation TV watching with 2nd generation tivoing. Also 3rd and 4th generation watching are much closely aligned. Someone once asked me what happens after
the 4th, I usually laugh and say We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there… – Alan Turing.

The comments/feedback section is open, let me know what you think of it all.

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