Scripting News for 6/14/2007

New idea: Social Cameras! 

Here’s an idea that came to me while waiting for a train to Genova. I was standing on a platform, across a pair of tracks a man was taking a picture of something in my direction. I was in the picture, the camera seemed to be pointed at me.

I thought to yell my email address across the tracks asking him to send me a copy of the picture. (Assuming he spoke English and I could be heard over the din of the station.)

Then I thought my cell phone or camera could do that for me. It could be beaming my contact info. Then I had a better idea. What if his camera, as it was taking the picture, also broadcast the bits to every other camera in range. My camera, sitting in my napsack would detect a picture being broadcast, and would capture it. (Or my cell phone, or iPod.)

Wouldn’t this change tourism in a nice way? Now the pictures we bring home would include pictures of ourselves. Instead of bringing home just pictures that radiate from me, I’d bring home all pictures taken around me while I was traveling.

Of course if you don’t want to broadcast pictures you could turn the feature off. Same if you don’t want to receive them.

A standard is needed, but the first mover would set it, and there is an incentive to go first because it would be a viral feature. Once you had a Social Camera, you’d want other people to have one. And you’d tell them about it.

Not sure what technology would work best here. Bluetooth isn’t fast enough. Is wifi overkill? Maybe a low-power radio transmitter?

When I told this idea to a bunch of friends at breakfast they said they probably already have these cameras in Japan. Do they?

Personally I think this idea is as good as Checkbox News or HyperCamp, neither of which have been done yet, btw. 🙂

Kevin Marks says wifi is the way to go.


Five years ago today: “Lots of non-Internet stuff going on.”

That was an understatement. 🙂

I choose to remember 6/14/02 as the day I had my last cigarette. On my way to the doctor’s office I bought two packs of Marlboro Lights. I smoked one on the way to the appointment. That was the last cigarette.

It was a Friday. I would spend Saturday and Sunday in the hospital, and on Monday I had heart surgery. A life-changing event, for sure. A life-saving event too.

Over the years I’ve written lots about it. As my body recovered from the surgery little victories seemed pretty big. First, a walk down the driveway. Then a five minute walk down Manzanita Way. Then ten minutes, then twenty. My first trip to the city. Dancing with a 6-foot cigarette in my dreams. And on and on.

I think today is a big milestone in that I didn’t remember to look at the calendar until 2PM, and I had to go back to the archive page to be sure I had the day right. I am so not a smoker that I didn’t even remember to mark the day until well past lunch.

I owe a lot of gratitude to people who helped me get through the toughest part of the recovery.

And I thank Murphy for letting me live another five years. Whew. Think I’ll go walk in the hills. 🙂

Today’s song: Respect Yourself.

Kudos to Progresso 

Vlad: “I’ll probably be the only one to make this comment, but it’s about time someone noticed the awesome jobs Progresso and Campbell are doing with the gumbo soups.”

I haven’t tried Campbell’s, but Progresso’s gumbo is an excellent soup. I buy four or five cans whenever I can. True, most markets don’t stock them. Good food!

BBC piece 

I wrote a piece for the BBC a few months ago.

It’s on the BBC website today.

AT&T, day 2 

Re yesterday’s post on AT&T.

Gary Secondino wonders if Apple supports them. AT&T is the exclusive service provider for iPhone.

Jake asks if they might also guard against Slingbox users on behafl of Major League Baseball.

20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anton2000 on June 14, 2007 at 5:20 am

    Hey Dave,

    Pipe blunder robs Trevi’s supply


  2. The photos wouldn’t have to be passed directly between cameras. The camera could just broadcast a unique ID for locating the photo when it is later uploaded to some common service. Bluetooth would be fast enough for passing references, but it might not have the range.


  3. re: short haul networking cameras.
    Dave, your idea for cameras that sense the presence of an electronic ID enabled device and which automatically exchanges owner ID’s and relevant information is zackly the sort of technology I was searching for while at Demo. It has yet to appear in ‘Merrukah yet, but there is something very like it in Japan under the DoCoMo uber brella. Furthermore one of the technologies I had hoped to sho at Demo2003 as a work in progress was very cimilar to what you said you wished for. The technology was a varation on 802.11, not Bluetooth and was being developed by a company that is in upstate New York and is known for its branded “moments.” Sadly, if this technology were launched in the US, I suspect it would axiomatically be condemned by the EFF or rugged Constitutionalists concerned about their privacy of their Purity of Essence.. Good pont and I may blog this along with my wish for location-based/meta data enhanced tagging.

    Jim F from my outside office on my little mountaintop in rural SanDiego County.


  4. My girlfriend’s comment on this (she’s from Japan) –

    “So then if someone takes a photo up your skirt on the train, then you and everyone around you gets a copy? Hmm… not sure whether they have this in Japan.”


  5. WiFi is perfect for the social camera, especially when coupled with Zeroconf – think how Macs in the same room can see each other for chat or iTunes; or look at the Nintendo DS, which makes ad-hoc WiFi networks for chat and game playing.
    Eye-fi is close to this idea: – making that work locally would be good.


  6. Kevin, is a teaser site, isn’t it?? Not much info there…


  7. AT&T has no concept of a good relationship with its customers. This hits a nerve with me, because I had to report them to the state public utilities commission after they put nearly $3,000 worth of charges on my bill for free local calls and then refused to remove the charges even after they admitted that the charges were incorrect. The customer service people were rude and wouldn’t do anything to help me. Luckily the public utilities commission ordered them to remove the charges immediately. Needless to say, I will never deal with AT&T again.


  8. Posted by Jeanne Kane on June 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Dave,

    Hard to believe so many years have gone by. Well I remember your heart scare and quitting smoking. Congratulations. Glad you are still here enlightening us. On June 1st ( which I forgot to mark too) it was 37 years having quit. I still say, one of the hardest things I ever did. I started at age 11 and ended at 20… Jeez.



  9. Posted by Sean Moran on June 14, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Dave, the idea I have had for a number of years was a service that would be like Google Images, that would scour the net and photo sites in particular to find pictures of yourself…imagine uploading a number of pics, and the services scans your features, and then presents a number of options and “best guesses” of photos that look like you. You could then put together an album of pictures of you from other people!

    This is what made me realize Google was closer than I thought:


  10. Posted by James Levy on June 14, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Yahoo Research Berkeley’s Zonetag and Zurfer services are the closest thing yet to this. They’re built on top of Flickr with geo-location machine-tags. Cool stuff.


  11. Posted by Jimmi Johnson on June 14, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    5 Years has gone fast, Congratulations Dave!

    Hope you had a good walk, I cherish the memories of ones we took in Woodside. Currently in Chicago, walking around with 17 Year Cicada everywhere, amazingly loud.

    Great idea about Cameras, there are already some WIFI cameras, but
    for downloading to computers. How about this planned intercommunications between cars.


  12. Posted by Jim Armstrong on June 14, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I was just thinking the other day when some analyst projected that Apple will sell 45 million iPhones between now and 2009. – How could someone put 45 million wifi podcasting cameras to use?

    Social Cameras. Brilliant.

    If you could tie in your ICBM location with your photos via Google Maps, all the better.


  13. re : social cameras.

    Have you seen Microsoft’s PhotoSynth? ( It might be moving towards a similar or complementary place by automatically searching and matching images later.


  14. Plavp, what about the Zune?

    So far no one seems to have noticed that this is very much like the Zune, except for photos and without the crippling DRM.


  15. My company just released a Zeroconf (Bonjour) framework yesterday, and just this application is in the plan for release in the next few weeks. Watch this space.


  16. Posted by Vlad on June 16, 2007 at 8:10 am

    A bit late, but i do the same thing, stop by the only supermarket here that sells them, and clean them out. You put 10 of the gumbos on the checkout counter and the cashier looks at you kind of funny.

    I like your social camera idea but they’d really need to fine tune the usability. For example, I’m in a touristy place and everyone has a social camera. I’m now bombarded with a thousand requests to accept a picture all at once.

    Forget the lag, especially if it sends a small preview, and possible exploding of my camera, what I’m worried about is it interfering with my photography should i choose to enable the feature.

    I guess i could just turn it on to see what other people are doing and turn it off again, but that might kind of take the fun out of it.


  17. re: Social Camera

    I think it would be better if the camera had a gps receiver and added geodata to EXIF information every time you take a picture.

    Later, you should be able to search the flickr (or the web) for images created near that point in that particular time, and see if you’re on them.


  18. This is a very bad idea, especially in the United Kingdom:

    In the same way that there already exist fake or simulated WiFi access points, what is there to prevent a fake or modified “social camera” from being abused to passively track or actively grab the photo sharing contact details of all the other “social cameras” within range ?

    What is there to stop “social camera” transmission detectors from being installed for “security” purposes around Government buildings etc. ?

    People have already been prosecuted in the UK for taking photos of the exterior of a Police station, under the Terrorism Act 2000 Section 58 Collection of information (up to 7 years in prison) – such “social camera” data exchange audit trails could easily be abused to legally enforce arbitrary “no photography” zones.

    Why would I want to carry a “social camera” which responds to such fake photo contact details requests, by transmitting them to local criminals looking for rich western tourists to rob, or to terrorists (for kidnap or targeted bomb triggering purposes) or to the local secret police ?

    What will a “social camera” operator do when
    I wear my tshirt and broadcast a Copyright message via insecure WiFi or BlueTooth or Near Field Communications etc. like this one ?

    “Copyright 1998 – 2007 Watching Them, Watching Us

    This design is protected by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

    Consequently, this design may not be copied, stored, distributed or transmitted, in whole or in part, by any electrical, electronic, mechanical, chemical, optical or computer system, neither, for example by, public nor private CCTV surveillance cameras, broadcast television, analogue nor digital electronic cameras, video recorders, paparazzi cameras nor through public nor private telecommunications systems such as the Internet.

    Under UK law, each and every instance of copying this design is forbidden. In accordance with European Union copyright conventions, this protection lasts for at least the next 70 years.

    Sanctions include unlimited fines and up to 3 years in prison, i.e. a serious enough offence to allow for extradition requests from foreign countries. Within the European Union, under the European Arrest Warrant, such extraditions can happen without without the need to show prima facie evidence to a foreign court.

    The copyright holders will pursue their rights through the High Court, and will obtain an Anton Pillar order against companies and individuals who we suspect of breaching our copyright. This will allow our bailiffs to conduct dawn raids of premises, and to seize all cameras, computers, telecommunications equipment, analogue and digital storage media such as tapes, hard disks, floppy disks, flash memory, processed and unprocessed film etc. and all paper images and records which may contain our copyright material, to be examined by the copyright holders experts, at their leisure.”


  19. A cool Idea Dave! I just found this interesting article and instantly subscribed to your rss-feed. 🙂

    eas’ idea of passing only ID’s is more power-saving, and therefore it should be favoured, since power is always a huge concern on mobile systems. Another possiblity would be to send only a thumbnail with the ID.

    But I wonder what to do against the problem of spamming advertising through this new channel? Maybe an online-blacklist like spamcop?


  20. There is some research in that direction by Gary Marsden:

    He focuses on use in developing countries:
    “we built a system that lets users broadcast images from their phone onto the screens of near-by handsets. All users can edit, move and annotate the photos, making for a highly interactive experience. In experiments, we had to wrestle the handsets back from the users”


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