Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Defining ubicomp

Continuing my look at how people are defining ubiquitous computing:

Mike Kuniavsky, in this recent IA Summit presentation, discusses what designers need to keep in mind when it comes to ubicomp:

"A phone is the way that someone uses it, the collection of data that's on it, the user's relationship to it and the system it provides access to. It's the network of people who are using it and it's a physical manifestation of a service...

We can no longer think of the things in isolation. Ubicomp devices provide access to larger systems and need to be designed alongside those systems. The design of the system becomes as important as the device...

The mechanical relationship that a motor has with the tool that it's part of is much easier to grasp than the information processing relationship a computer has with the ubicomp tool it's part of. The relationship becomes animist, a projection of psychology onto our electronics... [And] we may move from treating them as assistants to superintendents, parents or minor deities."

As I've written before, I think the animist take is a bit off, but I do think there is much to be gleaned from more nuanced understandings of anthropomorphism and delegation - and how they relate to morality. But really, I just want to know more about how he is defining and using "network" and "system" - and how that impacts relations between people and technology.


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