Conference Mobbing? – AirCQ

October 2, 2003

in Accelerating Innovation

A few weeks ago I was frustrated because so many conferences I’ve attended don’t yet have WiFi and the organizers simply don’t get it. At others there is a real reticence to bringing it in. As a participant I lose out. Connections not made etc. Then depending on the conference there isn’t even a list of participants Even if there is an IRC channel it is seldom that I can understand all the names, so exchanging details rather than quick observations isn’t enhanced. Then along comes AirCQ and I wonder if it is a product that can put conference mobbing (for the WiFi enabled)in the users hands!

After gaining a wonderful set of comments from Robert Mao and Skyping with him in more detail I downloaded AirCQ (Seek You on Air) to my two WiFi card enabled laptops, turned off the WiFi in the home. Then with the two computers began a chat session, including voice and cams. No wires, just simply peer to peer. As soon as the second PC was on the buddy list expanded to include that persons name and info. It was easy to share a simple social networking vcard. More complicated searches are possible. It would make for a pretty neat Ryze mixer (when everyone gets WiFi PDA’s). It would be a great experiment at BloggerCon this weekend so I shared it with Phil Wolff who has a box seat there. Unfortunately the Mac guys don’t get it yet. Still there will be enough PC’s in the audience to make it an interesting test. Probably work well at a gaming convention too.

There are minor quibbles I have with the current explanations, and I did find I had to reboot before it worked. Some of the icons are questionable and the data profile too topically structured. I’ve got more learning to do before I can make additional comments. Again – the technology is not new. Even kids toys (Cybiko) can do elements of this. What’s new is our growing awareness that these tools can be used to build and share social capital, in ways that can’t be foreseen without sharing a little. The mobs that activate at conferences will get more out of them. The individuals that go seeking matches at a location improve their chances of success. On AirCQ no network connections are required.

Instant potential for proximity sensitive matching for those with similar interests. Some more work on the profiles and you realize that that they can be turned off and on at will. Multiple profiles become pretty interesting. Once we are all enabled with simple WiFi enabled gadgets and without a centralized database I could be shopping and receiving special offers. “Sense and Respond” retailing. Similarly I could be rushing through an airport when it could notify me that someone who is a friend of a friend (this friend is in common) is in my proximity. Thus the spontaneous chance to meet and chat.

With my Skype fever I’m also inclined to look at AirCQ and ask what might it enable if engineered to “voice” introduce rather than chat first. Texting on small gadgets is difficult. photos are increasingly easy to look at, quick profiles to read. In the convention halls arranging meetings or leaving voice mails in this way would be just perfect. Adding to your friends list, and later being able to Skype them.

Overall AirCQ still leaves me with questions. In this format it appears to offers me little utility unless I’m with a mob group of conference attendees or similar environment (huge bar, Disneyland etc.). Then I could use it. I’d like to know more about security, etc. Revamp some elements, add in phone attributes, and AirCQ to landline and we are getting closer to a very neat “relationship building communicator”. What do others think? .

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