Tag: ubiquitous_computing

Anonymous Cowards, Avatars, and the Zeitgeist: Personal Identity in Flux

November 3rd, 2009 — 3:31pm

UX Mat­ters just pub­lished Anony­mous Cow­ards, Avatars, and the Zeit­geist: Per­sonal Iden­tity in Flux.  This is the lat­est install­ment of my col­umn on ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing and user expe­ri­ence, and it takes on the ques­tion of how per­sonal iden­tity is chang­ing is a result of the rise of dig­i­tal tools, ser­vices, and mea­sure­ments for iden­tity.   Iden­tity is a fun­da­men­tal aspect of expe­ri­ence, so it’s crit­i­cal that we under­stand what is hap­pen­ing to this uni­ver­sal ele­ment.  ‘Anony­mous Cow­ards’ is the first of two parts, focused on under­stand­ing how dig­i­tal iden­ti­ties work, and are dif­fer­ent from what we know.  Here’s an excerpt:

Dri­ven by dra­matic shifts in tech­nol­ogy, eco­nom­ics, and media, noth­ing less than a trans­for­ma­tion in the makeup and behav­ior of our per­sonal iden­tity is at hand—what it is, where it comes from, how it works, who con­trols it, how peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions use and value it. As a direct result of this trans­for­ma­tion, the expe­ri­ence peo­ple have of per­sonal identity—both their own and the iden­ti­ties of others—is chang­ing rapidly. As design­ers of the blended dig­i­tal, social, and mate­r­ial expe­ri­ences of every­ware, we must under­stand the chang­ing nature of per­sonal iden­tity. And now that human­ity itself is within the design hori­zon, it is espe­cially impor­tant for design to under­stand the shift­ing expe­ri­ence of dig­i­tal identity.

The sec­ond part will look at the impli­ca­tions of these changes for our expe­ri­ence of iden­tity.  As I put together my pre­dic­tions for what iden­tity will be like in 10 years, I wel­come input — what do you think?

2 comments » | The Media Environment

"Inside Out: Interaction Design for Augmented Reality" Live @ UX Matters

August 19th, 2009 — 7:02am

I’m very happy to announce that Inside Out: Inter­ac­tion Design for Aug­mented Real­ity — the lat­est install­ment of my col­umn Every­ware @UX Mat­ters -  is live now.  (Tim­ing is some­times the writer’s friend, as I was at the Layar event Mon­day night here in Ams­ter­dam just the day before, and had the chance to talk with some of their team.)

AR is more of a per­spec­tive and class of expe­ri­ences than an instance of new tech­nol­ogy, so I wanted to approach the sub­ject from the spe­cific per­spec­tive of user expe­ri­ence and inter­ac­tion design.  Reac­tions from the aug­mented real­ity com­mu­nity are pos­i­tive so far; Claire Boon­stra of Layar, and no less than the inim­itable Tish Shute of Ugo­Trade, have all been kind enough to rec­om­mend it.  Thanks to them and to every­one who’s tweeted and posted this one.

As we explore the role aug­mented real­ity will play in our gigan­tic exper­i­ment with every­ware, we should keep in mind that the map is not the ter­ri­tory.  But there is no deny­ing an effec­tive map will surely help point the way as you try to find your way around a strange new coun­try.

Comment » | Everyware, User Experience (UX)

"Designing Post-humanity" Live at UXmatters (Blogged by Bruce Sterling)

May 25th, 2009 — 5:11am

What hap­pens when *every­thing* is des­ignable? When the bound­aries between human­ity, tech­nol­ogy, and the larger envi­ron­ment dis­ap­pear? Design­ing Post-humanity: Every­ware In the Far Future, the lat­est install­ment of my col­umn on user expe­ri­ence and ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing in UXmat­ters, takes a look at these ques­tions. Post-humans, ubi­comp, and sci­ence fic­tion may seem like strange ter­ri­tory for user expe­ri­ence pro­fes­sion­als, but by con­sid­er­ing these kinds of futures today, we make many impor­tant deci­sions about who we will [all!] be tomorrow.

**Update: Bruce Ster­ling just posted about it in his Beyond the Beyond blog at Wired. Thanks for notic­ing, Bruce!

Comment » | Everyware

New Ubicomp Podcast & Everyware Column

April 25th, 2009 — 12:53am

Two quick updates on things hap­pen­ing other places.

First, the lat­est install­ment of Every­ware: Design­ing the Ubiq­ui­tous Expe­ri­ence (my col­umn for UXmat­ters) was pub­lished back in March. It explores the world of Ver­nor Vinge’s story Syn­thetic Serendip­ity from the expe­ri­ence design per­spec­tive. Vinge is justly reknowned as an SF author, but what makes Syn­thetic Serendip­ity worth read­ing closely is the dense col­lec­tion of ideas it shares: aug­mented real­ity, wear­able com­put­ing sys­tems, a network-based co-creation econ­omy open to all par­tic­i­pa­tion by peo­ple of all ages, the games vs. real­ity inver­sion, gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences in adap­ta­tion to tech­no­log­i­cal change, etc.

Mostly, I like Syn­thetic Serendip­ity as an entry point into the ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing space because it presents a pic­ture of the future from the view­point of an ordi­nary kid, who has ordi­nary con­cerns; go to school, play video games, stay out of trou­ble with friends.

In the com­pan­ion piece in draft now, I look much fur­ther ahead, explor­ing sce­nar­ios that con­sider what hap­pens when the bound­aries sep­a­rat­ing humans from the envi­ron­ment blur and dis­solve, and human­ity itself becomes an object of design.

Sec­ond, and related, Jeff Parks just posted the pod­cast of a group dis­cus­sion on ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing that he orga­nized at the IA Sum­mit in Mem­phis. You’ll hear me along with Jeff, Steve Baty, Will Evans, Matthew Milan, John Tir­mandi, Joe Sokohl, Todd Zaki War­fel as we share exam­ples, ideas, and ques­tions about the inter­sec­tion of user expe­ri­ence and ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing. Thanks to Jeff for mak­ing this hap­pen — it was a fun ses­sion, and I hope you enjoy lis­ten­ing as much as we enjoyed record­ing it.

Comment » | Everyware, Uncategorized, User Experience (UX)

Launching "Everyware" My New UXmatters Column

November 4th, 2008 — 5:31am

First Fic­tions and the Para­ble of the Palace is the inau­gural install­ment of “Every­ware: Design­ing the Ubiq­ui­tous Expe­ri­ence,” a col­umn explor­ing user expe­ri­ence and design in the era of ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing. ‘First Fic­tions’ con­sid­ers the pro­found design impli­ca­tions of foun­da­tional visions of ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing imag­ined by tech­nol­o­gists such as Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, and finds prece­dent for these sorts of techno-social futures in the poetic para­bles of Jorge Louis Borges.
“Every­ware” will be a jour­ney through the expand­ing wave­front of the ubiq­ui­tous expe­ri­ence as it impacts design, cov­er­ing top­ics rang­ing from ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing to near-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion, per­va­sive com­put­ing, The Inter­net of Things, spimes, ubi­comp, loca­tive media, and ambi­ent infor­mat­ics.
I hope it’s as good to read as it has been to write. And keep the com­ments flowing!

Comment » | Everyware, User Experience (UX)

Ubiquitous Computing and Borges' "Parable of the Palace"

October 26th, 2008 — 2:52pm

I’ve been look­ing at ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing for the past few weeks, work­ing on the first install­ment of what will be a recur­ring col­umn in UXMat­ters, and it’s had me think­ing a lot about Borges’ enig­matic Para­ble of the Palace.
I’m not exactly sure what the res­o­nance is — it lit­er­ally popped into my head a few weeks ago — but the con­nec­tion has stuck with me. Maybe it’s the quan­tum uncer­tainty of the tale? Or the ambi­gu­ity of the sym­bols. Are design­ers the poet? It feels that way some days. Is the palace the world around us? Maybe we’re also the emperor…
With­out fur­ther ado, I present the para­ble in it’s entirety.
Para­ble of the Palace
by Jorge Luis Borges
That day the Yel­low Emperor showed his palace to the poet. Lit­tle by lit­tle, step by step, they left behind, in long pro­ces­sion, the first westward-facing ter­races which, like the jagged hemi­cy­cles of an almost unbounded amphithe­ater, stepped down into a par­adise, a gar­den whose metal mir­rors and inter­twined hedges of juniper were a pre­fig­u­ra­tion of the labyrinth. Cheer­fully they lost them­selves in it — at first as though con­de­scend­ing to a game, but then not with­out some uneasi­ness, because its straight allées suf­fered from a very gen­tle but con­tin­u­ous cur­va­ture, so the secretly the avenues were cir­cles. Around mid­night, obser­va­tion of the plan­ets and the oppor­tune sac­ri­fice of a tor­toise allowed them to escape the bonds of that region that seemed enchanted, though not to free them­selves from that sense of being lost that accom­pa­nied them to the end. They wan­dered next through antecham­bers and court­yards and libraries, and then through a hexag­o­nal room with a water clock, and one morn­ing, from a tower, they made out a man of stone, whom later they lost sight of for­ever. In canoes hewn from san­dal­wood, they crossed many gleam­ing rivers–or per­haps a sin­gle river many times. The impe­r­ial entourage would pass and peo­ple would fall to their knees and bow their heads to the ground, but one day the courtiers came to an island where one man did not do this, for he had never seen the Celes­tial Son before, and the exe­cu­tioner had to decap­i­tate him. The eyes of the emperor and poet looked with indif­fer­ence on black tresses and black dances and golden masks; the real merged and min­gled with the dreamed–or the real, rather, was one of the shapes the dream took. It seemed impos­si­ble that the earth should be any­thing but gar­dens, foun­tains, archi­tec­tures, and forms of splen­dor. Every hun­dred steps a tower cut the air; to the eye, their color was iden­ti­cal, but the first of them was yel­low and the last was scar­let; that was how del­i­cate the gra­da­tions were and how long the series.
It was at the foot of the penul­ti­mate tower that the poet (who had appeared untouched by the spec­ta­cles which all the oth­ers had so greatly mar­veled at) recited the brief com­po­si­tion that we link indis­sol­ubly to his name today, the words which, as the most ele­gant his­to­ri­ans never cease repeat­ing, gar­nered the poet immor­tal­ity and death. The text has been lost; there are those who believe that it con­sisted of but a sin­gle line; oth­ers, of a sin­gle word.
What we do know–however incred­i­ble it may be–is that within the poem lay the entire enor­mous palace, whole and to the least detail, with every ven­er­a­ble porce­lain it con­tained and every scene on every porce­lain, all the lights and shad­ows of its twi­lights, and every for­lorn or happy moment of the glo­ri­ous dynas­ties of mor­tals, gods, and drag­ons that had lived within it through all its end­less past. Every­one fell silent; then the emperor spoke: “You have stolen my palace!” he cried, and the executioner’s iron scythe mowed down the poet’s life.
Oth­ers tell the story dif­fer­ently. The world can­not con­tain two things that are iden­ti­cal; no sooner, they say, had the poet uttered his poem than the palace dis­ap­peared, as though in a puff of smoke, wiped from the face of the earth by the final syl­la­ble.
Such leg­ends, of course, are sim­ply lit­er­ary fic­tions. The poet was the emperor’s slave and died a slave; his com­po­si­tion fell into obliv­ion because it mer­ited obliv­ion, and his descen­dants still seek, though they shall never find, the word for the universe.

2 comments » | Art

The Internet of Things - Or The Internet of Whens?

October 15th, 2008 — 11:22pm

I just requested a copy of The Inter­net of Things pam­phlet by Rob van Kra­nen­berg from the Net­work Note­books series (by networkcultures.org / Geert Lovink — who’s basi­cally around the cor­ner now that I’m here in Ams­ter­dam). In com­bi­na­tion with a read through Every­ware, it’s got me think­ing about some of the basic assump­tions we’re rely­ing on to frame the future of com­put­ing as it impacts our lives.
One of the key enablers under­ly­ing The Inter­net of Things is the IPv6 stan­dard, whose address scheme has an unbe­liev­able range of pos­si­ble addresses — 2 to the 128th power — so many that attempts to make it com­pre­hen­si­ble by anal­ogy strain the bound­aries of the absurd.
All of these com­par­isons beg the essen­tial ques­tion of what exactly we will be address­ing. So far, the gen­eral class of objects ‘Things’ is the most likely that I’ve heard posited. All of more spe­cific sug­ges­tions — such as all the grains of sand in the world, or every plant in every farm field on the planet — remain in the cat­e­gory of the sim­ply fan­ci­ful.
I think this focus on objects as the dom­i­nant type of addressed node in the new net­work lacks imag­i­na­tion. [At the IFTF sug­gests the Inter­net of Verbs]
The the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity uni­fied space and time, so why not use IPV6 to address moments of time as well as huge col­lec­tions of things?
Mas­sive cloud stor­age arrays and ultra-wide-band data trans­fer infra­struc­tures may make it fea­si­ble to record the cumu­la­tive sen­sory expe­ri­ences of entire human lives, or groups of peo­ple, or whole crowds; why not give each dis­crete fem­tosec­ond slice of these aggre­gate expe­ri­ences an address for easy archiv­ing, retrieval, and manip­u­la­tion?
Going back 13 bil­lion years to the begin­ning of the uni­verse would give us The Inter­net of Whens.
Map­ping every deci­sion made by peo­ple dur­ing the course of their day (200 on food alone), or their life, would give us The Inter­net of Whys.
Labelling all the loca­tions in the four-dimensional coör­di­nate scheme would cre­ate The Inter­net of Wheres.
Address­ing all the cells in all the human bod­ies would result in The Inter­net of Whos.
We must be bet­ter attuned to the pos­si­bil­i­ties afforded by all this ‘space’ we’re giv­ing our­selves to play with.

1 comment » | Ideas, Networks and Systems

Spring Reading

May 12th, 2008 — 10:44pm

The other day, over a hot corned beef sand­wich from the 2nd Avenue Deli, some­one asked what I’m read­ing now. As usual, I ended up mum­bling a few half com­plete book titles (not sure why, but I always have dif­fi­culty remem­ber­ing on the spot — prob­a­bly because I’ve got four or five things going at once…).
To help fill out the list, and because I’m still doing most of my writ­ing via other out­lets, here’s a snap­shot of the books scat­tered around my house. It’s divided into help­ful cat­e­gories, includ­ing ‘Books I’d Like To Start Read­ing Soon, But Shouldn’t, Because I’m Still Read­ing Other Stuff’, and ‘Books I’ve Been Mean­ing to Read Some­time Soon, But Prob­a­bly Won’t Won’t Get To In The Near Future.‘
Books I’m Read­ing Now

Books I’d Like To Start Read­ing Soon, But Shouldn’t, Because I’m Still Read­ing Other Stuff

Books Recently Finished

Books I’ve Been Mean­ing to Read Some­time Soon, But Prob­a­bly Won’t Get To In The Near Future

Bonus: Things I’m prob­a­bly Never Going to Start / Fin­ish Reading

3 comments » | Reading Room

The DIY Future: What Happens When Everyone Is A Designer?

November 19th, 2007 — 4:30pm

I’m post­ing the abstract for my clos­ing talk at the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit, as well as the slides, below.
Hope you enjoy!
Broad cul­tural, tech­no­log­i­cal, and eco­nomic shifts are rapidly eras­ing the dis­tinc­tions between those who cre­ate and those who use, con­sume, or par­tic­i­pate. This is true in dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences and infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ments of all types, as well as in the phys­i­cal and con­cep­tual realms. In all of these con­texts, sub­stan­tial exper­tise, costly tools, spe­cial­ized mate­ri­als, and large-scale chan­nels for dis­tri­b­u­tion are no longer required to exe­cute design.
The ero­sion of tra­di­tional bar­ri­ers to cre­ation marks the onset of the DIY Future, when every­one is a poten­tial designer (or archi­tect, or engi­neer, or author) of inte­grated expe­ri­ences — the hybrid con­structs that com­bine prod­ucts, ser­vices, con­cepts, net­works, and infor­ma­tion in sup­port of evolv­ing func­tional and emo­tional pur­suits.
The cul­tural and tech­no­log­i­cal shifts that com­prise the oncom­ing DIY Future promise sub­stan­tial changes to the envi­ron­ments and audi­ences that design pro­fes­sion­als cre­ate for, as well as the role of design­ers, and the ways that pro­fes­sion­als and ama­teurs alike will design. One inevitable aspect con­se­quence will be greater com­plex­ity for all involved in the design of inte­grated expe­ri­ences. The poten­tial rise of new eco­nomic and pro­duc­tion mod­els is another.
The time is right to begin explor­ing aspects of the DIY Future, espe­cially its pro­found impli­ca­tions for infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture and user expe­ri­ence design. Using the designer’s pow­er­ful fusion of ana­lyt­i­cal per­spec­tive and cre­ative vision, we can bal­ance spec­u­la­tive futur­ism with an under­stand­ing of con­crete prob­lems — such as grow­ing eth­i­cal chal­lenges and how to resolve them — from the present day.
Here’s the slides, avail­able from SlideShare:

Comment » | Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

EuroIA Presentation Slides on Ethics and User Experience

October 2nd, 2007 — 4:28pm

My pre­sen­ta­tion slides from the Ethics Panel at EuroIA 2007 — titled Design­ing Eth­i­cally — Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Con­flict: Design For the Inte­grated Expe­ri­ences of the Future — are avail­able from Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/moJoe. Ethics was a chal­leng­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject to take on, and it prompted some great dis­cus­sion with the audi­ence (even at 7pm, after a full day of ses­sions…)
Many thanks to fel­low pan­elists Olly Wright and Thom Froehlich, and all who planned, orga­nized, attended, spoke, vol­un­teered, or oth­er­wise con­tributed to EuroIA 2007. As you can see from the flickr pho­to­stream, it was worth the trip to Barcelona! I’m already look­ing for­ward to next year’s event in Ams­ter­dam.
Here’s a quick descrip­tion of the pre­sen­ta­tion:

“What does the future of design hold? Greater eth­i­cal chal­lenges. In the com­ing world of inte­grated expe­ri­ences, design will face increas­ing eth­i­cal dilem­mas born of the con­flicts between broader, diverse groups of users in social media; new hybrids such as the SPIME which bridges the phys­i­cal and vir­tual envi­ron­ments simul­ta­ne­ously, and the DIY shift that changes the role of design­ers from cre­ators of ele­gant point solu­tions, to the authors of ele­gant sys­tems and frame­works used by oth­ers for their own expres­sive and func­tional pur­poses. To bet­ter pre­pare design­ers for the increased com­plex­ity, con­nect­ed­ness, and aware­ness included in the com­ing future, here are some prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for eas­ily address­ing con­flict dur­ing the design of inte­grated expe­ri­ences, by using known and famil­iar expe­ri­ence design meth­ods and tech­niques.“

Comment » | Information Architecture, User Experience (UX)

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