Tag Archives: SMS

All The News That’s Fit to Print (in a Tweet)

Here’s a great little (no pun intended) experiment that I think is really cool. All the day’s news – in one Tweet.


The tweet takes you from “tinynews” to a site with (only slightly longer) “fullernews” and makes for interesting, if brief, reading. Check it.

And dumbest mobile service of the year goes too… TFL!

Shame it doesn't work underground

Shame it doesn't work underground

In the E for Effort department, I have to say that this service – which I’m sure means well – should get some sort of stupidity alert. Instead of bringing fast relief this poster is only likely to cause already stressed commuters to go into a fit of rage when they see the poster underground and realise they’re trapped and can’t use it. Sure some underground systems have mobile internet/wifi connectivity but London’s ancient and creaking system sure doesn’t.

Unsurprisingly, it looks like TFL have been planning to install mobile connectivity since 2005 – 4 years later, there’s no sign though.  Slow and crappy as ever.

I wonder what would have happened if people used it this morning when nearly the whole system was shut for snow…

Proper Messy and Steven Fry: Cool stuff the BBC is doing with mobile messaging

Happy New Year, gentle readers.

I wanted to write a quick post to flag up something very cool that another part of the BBC has just launched using mobile messaging (SMS).  Right up front, I should say I had nothing to do with this so can’t take credit for it.

Mobile Phone Drama

Mobile Phone Drama

Proper Messy is a mobile-phone based drama for teenagers, proudced by BBC Switch.  Along with video content, the service lets users get messages from the character of their choice and lets them interact with the plot.  I won’t say too much more since the story is live right now but look out for some cool stuff here. 

With SMS being such a pervasive and natural medium for teenagers, it seems like this could be a big hit.   The messages I’ve seen thus far have me hooked – I’m dying to know who was involved with the fire…


In more news of things I can’t take credit for, Stephen Fry (a famous BBC presenter) has been Twittering away on his journey leading up to his next series, Last Chance to See.  Which is about his quest to see endangered sepcies for, perhaps, the last time before they become extinct (or not).  Last week he  linked one of his Tweets to the official BBC Mobile site for Last Chance to See and sent a load of traffic our way (thanks, Stephen!).  Here, he talks about why he enjoys Twittering so much.  He’s got 50,000 followers already – Lily Allen, eat your heart out (she’s only got 648 followers).

And speaking of BBC talent on Twitter, here’s links to Steven’s page as well as the one from BBC bad-boy, Jonathan Ross.

That said, Twitter isn’t all fun and games – the BBC used it for its news coverage on US Election night by having members of the BBC bureau in Washington, DC using it.  We also used it during the Mumbai attacks – here’s two links to posts about it from editors here, including one about where it might not have gone so well.

Twitter and a classic picture by Rory Cellan-Jones

Mumbai, Twitter and Live Updates by Steve Herrmann

Bongo – Creepy Service or Just Creepy Marketing?

“Freaky” and “creepy” are two words being used to describe Bongo – a new SMS-based information service that’s been launched in the UK and being heavily promoted at the moment.  I have to say I had the same initial thoughts when I heard it being advertised on the radio with a proposition along the lines of “Text us the name and town of anyone in the UK to find out what Bongo knows about them.”

Of course, I couldn’t help trying it (surrendering £1.50 in the process) and this is what I got back:

Bongo knows a Jason DaPonte who works 4 the bbc in london & he organised a fund raisin (sic) for his triathlon earlier in the summer for a charity close to his heart

All true.  And nothing salacious.  Not that I’d have expected that, of course.

Fortunately, this is all information which is publicly on the internet about me and nothing “creepy” or “freaky” came back.  But what if it had?

At first I was nervous but after some reflection I realised this is really just a VERY expensive way of doing a search on Google mobile and putting an editorialised twist on the results.  It’s really not that different to what Textperts or AQA are doing (pulling intelligence out of search, sometimes using humans) – it just has a slightly stranger marketing campaign attached to it.  Not surprising when you discover that in Australia, where I think they launched, they actually promote themselves as the “The Bongo Virus“…

Strange as this all sounds, I think its another pointer towards a trend whereby mobile search via SMS will be big.  Being simple, human and to the point is what all of these services are about and that’s not something you can get when scrolling through pages of search results, hoping to get to some mobile-enabled content.

Text Dodgy, er Dodger to 60006

Seen on a National Express train to Stanstead

Seen on a National Express train to Stanstead

Yesterday I set off for Crossover Nordic with the intention of starting a blog about the experience as a springboard for blogging about work stuff, music and other digitalia.

I saw this and thought it was a good place to kick off – a sign asking people to use an SMS shortcode to report fare dodging.  It’s a little creepy to me – asking people to use their mobiles to snitch on each other just seems like using technology for vigilante-ism.  How do you know someone’s evading their fare?  How do you describe them in a way that’s meaningful enough for the authorities to catch them in less than 160 characters (minus the keyword ‘dodger’)?  Wouldn’t it be easy to cause someone alot of trouble by texting in to tattle on them even though they’d paid.  (My mischevious side loves the idea of doing it as a prank but…)

Being curious I texted in ‘Surely someone on this train must be dodging their fare.’  The answer I got back was just a general reply:

Thank you, we will be reviewing your information and acting accordingly.  National Express East Anglia Revenue Protection Unit.

Hmmm.  And I was expecting storm trooper fare collectors to rush onto the train with nets to catch the fare dodgers.  Slightly disappointing.

Slightly disappointing, also, that they’re using technology this way.  I don’t like the idea of us all using our mobiles for surveillance, especially when I doubt it can be done effectively.  I think they keyword for their system should be ‘dodgy‘ and not ‘dodger.’