Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.16

May 19, 2005


Mobile Digital Commons Net explores politics and poetics


The Mobile Digital Commons Network held a bilingual symposium May 5 to 8 at SAT and UQAM under the title Sampling the Spectrum: The Politics, Practices and Poetics of Mobile Technologies.

The MDCN is a research project launched by Concordia, via Hexagram and the Centre interuniversitaire des arts médiatiques, and the Banff New Media Institute.

Funded by Heritage Canada, it connects members at universities, in the arts and in industry whose work revolves around mobile, wireless, and digital technologies.

The idea is to facilitate interdisciplinary research, foster cultural production and public participation, and develop forward-thinking policy on wireless technologies.

The Network is made up of six interrelated projects: Global Heart Rate, Digital Cities, City Speak, Sonic Scene, Policy Report and the Mobile Cartographic Command Centre (MC3). These projects in progress were on display at the symposium.

Just to take one enticing example, Global Heart Rate “will research and produce a large-scale game experience for players and learners in outdoor environments.

“These participant-driven mobile experiences will utilize the structure of a game to disseminate interactive knowledge about a particular area, such as Banff’s wealth of natural history, seeking to make the experience fun and useful for applications such as ecotourism.”

Global Heart Rate players will use mobile devices such as telephones and/or PDAs connected to wearable technologies that enter information from biometric data.

Linking each of the six projects is the idea of a permanent “wireless commons” in the cities of Montreal and Banff. Each of the network projects are using the wireless commons to explore new ways of distributing culture, information and commercial applications on cell phones, wireless PDAs (personal digital assistants), and laptops.

In Montreal, the wireless commons is being constructed in partnership with a community wireless organization called Ile sans Fil.

The symposium looked at the impact of mobile culture and the evolving idea of a wireless commons — “how wireless technologies enrich and modify public life in Canada, challenge our notions of space and place, and shape our day-to-day experiences.”

Fine Arts Associate Professor Michael Longford is one of the principal investigators of the MDCN, along with Concordia colleagues Jason Lewis and Reza Soeymani. The other principal investigators are from York University, UQAM, McGill, the Banff Centre New Media Institute and TR Labs.

To learn more about MDCN and its work, go to