Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Digital Patina

Via The Feature, Eric Paulos at the Berkeley Intel Research Lab is working on a project called Digital Patina:

First, consider what a non-digital patina means. Whenever human beings occupy or pass through a physical space, the surfaces of objects in that space begin to take on a patina of stickers, graffiti, tagging, scuffs, wads of discarded gum, and other signs of human activity and communication. Paulos says that all of these things are much more than signs of wear and tear. They're actually valuable markers conveying vital information that people subconsciously rely on for operating in their environment.

Paulos wants to add an additional layer of wireless digital information over this existing layer of physical markers. This is what he calls the Digital Patina. One of the first examples of this, he thinks, will be the use of RFID tags to leave messages for other people who visit a public space ... Paulos isn't so concerned about coming up with a killer app for RFID tags. What Paulos wants to do is develop a digital tagging system and hand out tags to people and see what uses they create for them. His philosophy could be summed up as, "build it and they will play with it." "People are naturally ludic," says Paulos. "They switch between work and play."

See also Familiar Stranger (with Elizabeth Goodman)

The research goal is to identify the properties and phenomenon of the familiar stranger relationships we currently observe in public places. From that study, we will be looking to design tools and techniques that play into similar roles of the familiar stranger with modern wireless technologies.


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