Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Crystal balls

Thanks for all your prediction help: it came in handy for Wednesday's event. For those of you who weren't among the crowd, m-net has a summary of the evening, Mauricio's winning predictions are here, and here are my own predictions for 2007.

No-one under the age of 25 will buy an iPhone. Seriously, have you tried texting and walking at the same time on something without buttons? Plus, it's too expensive, and without an open platform there's no chance for random, unpredictable killer apps to be developed by unknown bedroom coders. It'll go down a treat with baby-boomer Mac-fetishists, but it won't become a mass hit.

Geospatial data will start to open up, and we'll see the first NZ "killer mashup" that gets everyone excited. The Guardian has been fighting for some time to get taxpayer-funded geodata freed in the UK, and there are small but encouraging signs that it's happening here. LINZ is gradually releasing its stranglehold on cadastral data: you still have to pay, and be prepared for some major data-munging to get anything useful, but you're now allowed to share the results. Statistics NZ will for the first time be making census meshblock data available for free, but to do anything useful with it you'll still need to buy the digital boundaries for at least $1500 (though I've heard rumours...).

When some of this vital data is properly freed up, it will combine with steadily improving open source GIS software and online mapping applications to create the fuel that someone's creative spark will ignite. ProjectX are already doing some great stuff (such as mashing up ZoomIn with YouTube, though Wellington's tourism bods won't always like the result!), and there's more on the way.

Only Georgina Beyer can unseat Kerry Prendergast. I've already covered this, but I said a bit more at the event. Perhaps a bit more than I should have, given that the video will be online: do libel laws cover YouTube?

Wellington will get light rail incorporating a tiki-bar. For my reader prediction, I reluctantly passed on the flying cars comment, as lucid and concise as it was, and went with George Darroch's elegant mash-up of the two things that Wellington needs the most: sustainable transport infrastructure and 'fifties Polynesian kitsch. Okay, so it's still a little fanciful, but I still have hopes that the increasing public awareness of climate change will put non-roading transport on the political agenda this year, and I just know that the Mai Tai will be the mojito of 2007.


At 11:05 pm, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mate, I would have voted for ya if you hadn't mentioned Georgina Beyer for mayor. That comment about the iPhone was out there but spot on. Never underestimate context of touch.

Ta for the update on meshblock stats. Meshblocks are the new electorates. Let's get fractal, eh.

- Zippy Gonzales posting Anon as Blogger beta is playing silly buggers

At 2:30 pm, January 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vaguely (very, very vaguely) on the subject, I've just (in the sense of "only finished wrangling MediaWiki a couple of hours ago") set up WellingtonWiki, with the aim of it being something in the mould of Davis Wiki or any of the myriad others about other cities around the globe. I know WellUrban readers will have plenty of knowledge they could contribute, both in the more straight-up factual areas and the more... esoteric ones.

As you can imagine it's fairly empty right now, but I'm hopeful it can become a useful resource for people. It also needs a) comments about how to improve its generally pretty staid and ugly state right now and b) a few more sysops.

I'm also hopeful that you'll add, or consent to adding, some of your articles and analyses from here to the site, Tom. Hint, hint...

At 3:52 pm, January 27, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah those iphone comments were right on the mark. That iphone is supposed to be be huge (physically huge i mean) and there are already much better mp3 phones available right now.

At 2:01 pm, January 28, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Zippy: i's not that I'm necessarily supporting Beyer (not until I know her policies), nor even saying that she will win, just that no-one else has a show of beating Kerry. For all her unpopularity in many sectors of Wellingtin society, last time she still got almost as many votes as the next two candidates added together. Given the divisions and lack of quality among the opponents, only an outside candidate with a high profile (sich as Beyer, or indeed Jackson) could do it.

Michael: good idea. I'd been thinking about the idea of a "Wellington buldings database", and was wondering whether Wikipedia would be the way to go, but a specialised Welly Wiki might be a better choice. I'll have a closer look soon.

At 8:43 am, January 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mate, sounds like you must be one of the " baby-boomer Mac-fetishists " that Tom said it'll go down a treat with....

At 11:07 am, January 29, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Maximus: maybe "no one" and "under 25" were exagerrations for effect, but I can't see the text-addict generation giving up their mobiles for something that makes texting so difficult. I've got a mobile without (many) buttons, but I'm of the generation that can't send a text without ensuring that my spelling, grammar, prosody and literary allusions are all up to snuff, so I'm happy to stop what I'm doing to tap out a text on the touch screen. But a device that requires actual conscious attention to send a text won't go down well with those who want to text while walking, eating or "otherwise engaged" (those at the event will know what I mean).

Don't get me wrong: the iPhone will sell heaps. But it won't become the mass-market device that the iPod or generic cellphones are. I think there are two potential markets for a "converged device":

- A high-end pocket computer, like the current i-mates and apaches, but with a few more features. Specifically: 20GB+ storage, a camera with a decent lens and exposure control, WiFi and GPS. And all wrapped up in something no bigger than the iPhone, and with an open platform. We're almost there with the current PDA phones, and the i-mate JAM was the first device for me that made portable convergence really work, but those other features will be the killer. Geeks, gadget-heads, journalists and road warriors will kill for one of these.

- An iPhone, but cheaper and more phone-like. It'll have many of the features above, but with the functionality wrapped into simple workflows to make it more user-friendly. For instance: take a photo, crop and tweak, then upload to Blogger, Flickr, Myspace or ZoomIn with a couple of clicks. That's all possible with PDA phones, but it's very kludgy. There'll be all sorts of content provision tie-ins, but one or more (no idea what: YouTube? Second Life? TradeMe?) will be the killer. It'll have a proper keypad and a standard candybar or clamshell format, and cost less than NZ$500. That's what the youngsters will go for, not the iPhone or the super-gadget.


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