Photo credit: Rob Pongsajapan. Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Lift conference and helping to run a workshop on user privacy. This was a workshop with a difference. My colleague Franco Papeschi came up with the idea of a privacy “game” (“Denopticon“) which would help participants explore the issues around privacy, personal information and data sharing. The game started with participants filling out an ID card with personal information about themselves. Participants earned points for finding out and recording personal information from others and additional points for fulfilling various secret missions. It was enormously fun and I hope to help run it again at other events. But besides being fun, it helped the participants, and the moderators, think about the key issues around user privacy. This was against the backdrop of enormous upheaval in the area of user privacy on the Web. I remember when privacy on the Web used to boil down to “turning off cookies.” Now-a-days if you turn off cookies, you might as well use your computer as a doorstop, and anyway the privacy conversation has so moved on. In a world where more and more of our communication is happening through social networks and socially connected applications, the whole concept of privacy is being turned on its head, to the extent that some (such as Christian Heller) are claiming that we are now living in a “post-privacy” world. And, of course, Google’s Eric Schmidt is on record saying “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, …

Can I Have a Word in Private? Read more »

Interesting post over at Mashable today about the failure of many social network sites to take down personal images even after the user has explicitly “deleted” them. The issue of data take-down is one we’ve started discussing in the W3C Social Web Incubator Group. The example of deleting images you’ve placed online is a simple one, but what about all the other digital traces we leave on the Web? In a world where more and more of our identity is expressed online, should data take-down be a universal human right? We’re collecting user stories that illustrate concepts like this in order to provoke some thought, both about what the future of a more social Web should look like and what technical underpinnings need to be in place to make this happen.

Since upgrading my iPhone to the 2.0 software, I’ve dived into Apple’s app store and I’ve been making a point of trying out apps from across the store but focusing on content creation tools (such as the excellent WordPress app which I’m using to write this post). At the same time, I’ve continued to make use of all the great iphone webapps and mobile Web sites I’ve come to know and love. Increasingly, across many platforms (not just iPhone) application developers and content providers will  face this choice: to build a webapp or to build a native app. There are advantages to both approaches, and some work that’s just getting started that I believe will significantly change the face of mobile development over the next 2 years. The rush of content and application developers to develop iPhone apps has been impressive and somewhat predictable. The app store is the next big thing. Google, Microsoft and others are now jumping on the bandwagon (probably much to the dismay of the folks at Handango who can rightly claim they’ve been doing an app store since before app stores were cool). Many of the apps in the Apple app store are really good and could not (currently) be written as web apps because they either take advantage of device capabilities (such a location) or because they need direct access to graphics or sound capabilities (3D gaming) not available to the browser engine. However – discounting this need to access the platform functions, there’s nothing about, say, the iPhone Facebook …

Mobile Web Apps will Beat Native Apps Read more »

W3C are producing an online training course for mobile Web developers: “An Introduction to W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices” which will run from May 26 to June 20 2008. This will be a great chance to get more information on mobile Web development practices from the experts — highly recommended for any Web developers out there who are interested in getting into mobile. W3C is organizing an online course to introduce Web developers and designers to W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices. In this course you will: * learn about the specific promises and challenges of the mobile platform * learn how to use W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices to design mobile-friendly Web content and to mobilize existing content * discover the relevant W3C resources for mobile Web design Participants will have access to lectures and assignments providing hands-on practical experience with using W3C’s mobile Web Best Practices. They will have direct access to W3C experts on this topic who are the instructors for this course. Participants will also be able to discuss and share experiences with their peers who are faced with the challenges of mobile Web design. More information at http://www.w3.org/2008/03/MobiWeb101/Overview.html Register now at http://www.3gwebtrain.com/moodle/

Just made a presentation at Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. This presentation was a bit of an experiment – combining some “vision thing” stuff about the Mobile Web with some specific recommendations for building Mobile Ajax applications (and thanks to Óscar Gutiérrez Isiégas, Scott Hughes and Jonathan Jeon for their contributions). I got a lot of requests for the slides – so here they are for anyone interested!   | View | Upload your own

I’m sitting in the Korean Airlines lounge in Narita (Tokyo) airport after an 11 hour flight from London, watching a seemingly endless succession of JAL 747s taking off. When I arrived, there were no promised uniformed agents showing me the way. All the doors marked “international connections” were closed. In the end, I had to find my way through a very forbidding looking corridor and I was sure I was going to be turned back and possibly detained, but the airport staff I eventually found were very helpful and guided me to the checkpoint I needed for my connection. So, here I sit, stealing WiFi from the Northwest lounge next door. In an hour I’ll be on another flight on my way to Seoul, South Korea. I don’t speak a word of Korean, I have no local currency and I’ve most likely packed the wrong plug adapters. But on Monday morning, I will convene the next face to face meeting of the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices working group. After that, I plan to participate in an event called W3C Mobile Wednesday, a kind of east-meets-west open conference-style event bringing together people working in mobile Web standardization and those working on the sharp end of the mobile Web in Korea: people from manufacturers and operators, yes, but also entrepreneuers, bloggers, developers. It’s all thanks to the Korean Mobile Web 2.0 Forum, ETRI, and the people at the W3C offfice in Korea. I’m very excited about this event and this whole week. Besides making some real progress …

Why am I Going to Korea? Read more »

I got “video blogged” at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week by Dennis Howlett. Dennis captured me talking about the landscape and future of the mobile Web. Unfortunately, he edited out the bit where I was talking about the W3C Mobile Web Initiative, which was kind of the point of the whole thing (from my perspective). The material that made it in was some scene-setting for why we created the Mobile Web Initiative and developed the Mobile Web Best Practices and MobileOK, both of which were being showcased at the W3C booth at the congress.

I’ve just had confirmation that, for my flight out to Beijing for the upcoming WWW2008 conference in April, I will be flying the first leg on a Singapore Airlines Airbus A-380 “superjumbo.” The flight will be London to Singapore on the 18th of April and will kick off a round the world trip that I will be taking that week, first hitting Beijing for the W3C Advisory Committee meeting and the WWW2008 conference (where I will be co-chairing a workshop on advanced mobile Web applications) and then flying on to San Francisco where I will be speaking about the Mobile Web and Mobile Ajax at O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Expo event. It’s going to be a very exciting week, tackling two very different Web conferences and helping to bring a mobile flavor to both, while simultaneously circumnavigating the globe and hopefully taking in some more sights than just hotel rooms and airport lounges along the way. But clearly, one highlight (for me) will be getting to fly part of the way on the A-380. I have to admit: I’m a bit of an air travel nerd, and I’ve been following the saga of the A-380 ever since it was announced by Airbus.

In June 2005, I wrote in these pages about an issue I knew we were going to have to grapple with in the Mobile Web Best Practices group that we were then kicking off. What is the intersection of mobility and accessibility when it comes to Web content? In fact, the initial approach and early work of the group that set the foundations for the Mobile Web Best Practices and for MobileOK was based on the work of the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, and specifically the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines document. This week, we have followed up the release of MobileOK with a new document that details exactly that: describe the relationship between Mobile Web Best Practices and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Why should you care? If you’re trying to provide a service on the Web, you need to care about both accessibility and mobility. Both of these topics require some investment in skills, tools, and development time, so understanding where the overlaps are should greatly help to reduce development costs and time to market. At the end of the day, it’s also about maximizing the potential audience for your service, regardless of a user’s disability or the device used to access that service.