The new, new thing in Japan: write a novel on a mobile phone

You think BlackBerry users are weird because because they don't mind hammering out email messages with their thumbs? Well, in Japan a new generation of authors are writing entire novels on their mobile phones. This article relates that "half of Japan's top-10 selling works of fiction in the first six months of the year were composed ... on the tiny handset of a mobile phone."

The writing style is characterized by "clipped one-liners, emoticons and spaces (used to show that a character is thinking), all of which can be read easily on a mobile phone interface."

One such novel is Moshimo Kimiga, written by a nursery school teacher on her mobile phone and originally distributed in installments to mobile phone readers. Now that it is available in hard cover, it has sold 420,000 copies since January.

I still can't decide if this is a wonderful example of making an art previously practiced by a relative few available to the many, or if it's just depressingly weird. You tell me!


Finally, my phone knows where I am

Google announced a new version of Google Maps for mobile phones almost a week ago. It uses cell tower location data to determine approximately where you are, without needing GPS. Now I know you're thinking, "triangulation!" but Google doesn't say that word anywhere.

This was just too cool to pass up so I've been trying valiantly for the last week to get it running on my BlackBerry Pearl 8100 (on the Rogers network in the Vancouver area). I am happy to report that after multiple permutations of installing, uninstalling, power cycling and battery pulling ... it works! It's in beta (what a surprise), and surely Google will figure out how to make it install more reliably soon.

What do I mean by "it works"? Instantly after firing up the application it showed my estimated location with a blue flashing dot and indicated that it was accurate to about 1700m. In fact, it was much closer, about five blocks. And that's indoors where GPS wouldn't work anyway.

For those us used to having GPS locate us to within the correct side of the street, not five blocks away, this may seem like it's not going to be good enough. But if you are as directionally challenged as I am, you'll take what you can get. And Google claims that it will get more accurate as it used more. (How the heck does that work??)

You can find out all about it here. It would be a good idea to check first if your phone is supported.