August 24, 2011
Returning from the US, I encountered Helsinki the way I like it: beautiful in the late summer sunshine, sizzling with colleagues from four continents.
Helsinki viewed from Tervasaari, our meeting location (picture credit: kesakko on flickr)
For the first time, the global Sizzle crew gathered together to one location. The round of introductions in the first morning was a revealing moment for many of us: So many people working on Sizzle!
And it’s not only that we are many but that we form such a diverse team: not only are there people from Kenya, China, California & Finland. Another way to look at it is to recognize our wealth of academic backgrounds: some more focused on technology and software development, others on user research and design.
Over the two-day workshop, we shared news and experiences from what has been done in different locations and discussed our plans going forward. All of this is valuable in keeping everyone updated and opening eyes for potential collaborations. Furthermore, now that we have learned to know one another better and names match with faces, it will be immensely easier to bridge the distances and work over them.
A round of applause goes to Olli Pitkänen who shouldered most of the planning and organizing of the workshop.
July 9, 2011
A quick update for the Californian end of Sizzle:
We have just concluded the data collection for our survey on social media usage. Let’s see what the data will tell us – interesting analyses ahead!
The work on OSPN Kassi is ongoing, too, although right now things will slow down a little as the CalSizzle team will be traveling a lot in the upcoming weeks. I’m about to shift the base camp back to Finland but the collaboration with both OSPN and the ISchoolers will stay as close as ever.
We will be back in day-to-day business in mid-August. That’s when it’s time to join in on the Sizzle workshop in Helsinki – the first event to bring together researchers from all of the four Sizzle continents.
July 8, 2011
Yesterday I learned news of an exciting new development here at University of Nairobi: a group of students from the 2010 NairobiSizzle team have decided to revamp the services developed here last year and enter them into Nokia’s Create 4 Millions competition that looks for new applications that could help delivering internet services to the next billion people still without. Basically that sounds like a) mobile internet, b) internet on lower end phones, c) low bandwidth applications.
Sounds pretty perfect for NairobiSizzle and I wish the team best of luck. Application submission deadline is 20th of September 2011, watch this space!
July 7, 2011
So here we go again: NairobiSizzle 2011. Not quite a re run from last year, but almost. This year we’re down to 6 students hoping that a smaller team will be agile and effective. Three new students and three students from last year, so a mixture of experience and fresh blood.
The agenda this summer will be around Kassi. We’re going to be creating a local installation of Kassi for the University of Nairobi students, but also we’re going to be looking at adding some new features to it. Mobile web UI and SMS payment functionalities have been shortlisted, but lets see what happens. SMS payment would fit the Kenyan scene very well due to the popularity of mobile payments, such as M-Pesa here, so that’s the option that I’m hoping will be picked and implemented.
Also this summer the students will be looking at applications developed last year with a view to adding a PC user interface to it. Feedback from users has indicated that a PC UI would be nice to have as many students at the university have access to internet on a PC also, not just on their mobiles.
Last but not least we’ll be migrating the existing Sizzle services onto Amazon Web Services and merging the ASI databases together with the ASI currently used in Finland.
Lots of work, but all pretty exciting I’d say.
May 10, 2011
Last week, we at the Californian end of Sizzle were treated with both a heat wave and a HIIT wave, as the arrival of summer temperatures coincided with a number of our colleagues visiting Berkeley – many of them on their way to the CHI conference.
The days were packed with meetings and workshops around Berkeley. We met up with our colleagues at Berkeley Institute of Design as well as with many ISchoolers. CalSizzle workshop brought to the same room many of the key players working on bringing Kassi to Oakland Single Parents’ Network. We shared news, discussed the challenges that lie ahead, and made a number of introductions.
Next to hearing of Sizzle from different perspectives, OSPN’s Kadie Kelly shared her views about the network and its collaboration with Sizzle. Furthermore, Jen King presented recent work (in review) on third-party application privacy, and Heather Ford talked about the Masks final project, focusing on privacy in the realm of online education.
Making things concrete, the contract for OSPN’s and HIIT’s collaboration was signed. Finding ourselves ready to do so is delightful, as over the past months, a lot of work has gone into solving the legal and technical issues of setting up Kassi in California. Now that these challenges are behind us, we are preparing to launch Kassi for the members of Oakland Single Parents’ Network. The plan is to have this happen in a few weeks, in the early summer.
CalSizzle workshop at UC Berkeley's ISchool
Right now, however, we are out of California, at the CHI 2011 conference. This weekend, I was running the Workshop on Networked Privacy together with Fred Stutzman. The main conference started yesterday, with more than 2000 attendees. More on our experiences and presentations at CHI later. For now, you can keep up with news from CHI via social media, for instance through this Event Burn feed.