Computer Science Helsinki: The Context Project

Why use mobile phones as technology platform?

Smartphones are the first real pervasive platform. They are always with you and have the processing power and network connectivity of a 1995 PC. A service or application that works on a Smartphone has the unique capability of being available throughout your everyday life.

This is the statement that can be found on the homepage of the Context Project, the documentation of a large research done on the communicative (and consequentially social) behaviour of people by the
Department of Computer Science,
Helsinki Institute for Information Technology Basic, and
Advanced Research Unit

They developed a very sophisticated software application to keep track of all the people you meet and conversate with during the day, called the ContextPhone. Unfortunately it is designed for SymbianOS and therefore restricted to Series60 Nokia mobile phones.

Moreover, they mention the potential of the communication logs as private diary, several privacy issues and the possible influence on our behaviour (rituals), because we could start manipulating our context in order to make use of the collected/transmitted information as a message on its own (ideas which came to my mind as well).

I found another reason via Wade Roush on Technology Review

The smart phone is “an ideal system for pervasive, supportive social computing,” writes Russell Beale, director of the Advanced Interaction Group in the computer science department at the University of Birmingham, England. It’s “a two-way device, creating and consuming information, is highly personal, and is almost always available… .”

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