Tokyo Forum: November 21, 2002
GLOCOM Platform Mobile/Wireless Forum Includes Innovative Digital Dialogue
Daniel Dolan (Director, Global Communication Strategy, Weber Shandwick Japan)
The recent GLOCOM Platform forum on mobile and wireless technologies and their social impacts employed an interesting communication model that seemed to be taken directly from the speaking notes of the presenters. As panelists delivered essays and debated a wide range of themes related to the event, a small group of invited respondents used laptop computers linked to a wireless LAN to post comments and questions to a large screen set up at the front corner of the hall. Replies came from any interested respondent or the moderator. Audience members were able to track this conversation throughout the event as an additional source of information and inquiry. I served as one respondent, and although I found the tiny laptop keyboard a typing challenge it was a fun exercise.
Among the many interesting themes of the forum was David Isenberg's discussion of what he called "the paradox of the best network", which is that "the best network is the hardest one to make money running". Interested readers can find an essay on the best network written by Isenberg and David Weinberger at Isenberg's website:
Another conclusion of the discussion was that the next wireless "killer app" will almost certainly facilitate in some unique way the human need for social interaction. Nothing as exotic as some kind of Star Trek transporter beam, but rather something closer to the location-based service provided by Ima Hima in Japan. Ima Hima (which translates as "Do you have free time now"?) allows subscribers to the service to use their mobile telephones to identify which of their fellow subscribers are in their geographic vicinity at a certain time. Or something like Email. Email remains the most popular use of mobile Internet devices because it allows individuals to communicate any time any place at very low cost. People connecting is fundamentally different from one person checking their stock portfolio (if anybody has those any more). The trick for the next big thing in mobile communications is how to improve on the simplicity and economics of Email.