• Smart artifacts promise to enhance the relationships among participants in distributed working groups, maintaining personal mobility while offering opportunities for the collaboration, informal communication, and social awareness that contribute to the synergy and cohesiveness inherent in collocated teams. Two complementary trends have resulted in the creation of smart environments that integrate information, communication, and sensing technologies into everyday objects. We distinguish between two types of smart artifacts: system-oriented, importunate smartness and people-oriented, empowering smartness. The system-oriented and people-oriented approaches represent the end points of a line along which we can position weighted combinations of both types of smartness depending on the application domain.
    (tags: ubicomp)
  • A motivation behind much UbiComp research has been to make our lives convenient, comfortable and informed, following in the footsteps of Weiser’s calm computing vision. Three themes that have dominated are context awareness, ambient intelligence and monitoring/tracking. While these avenues of research have been fruitful their accomplishments do not match up to anything like Weiser’s world. This paper discusses why this is so and argues that is time for a change of direction in the field. An alternative agenda is outlined that focuses on engaging rather than calming people. Humans are very resourceful at exploiting their environments and extending their capabilities using existing strategies and tools. I describe how pervasive technologies can be added to the mix, outlining three areas of practice where there is much potential for professionals and laypeople alike to combine, adapt and use them in creative and constructive ways.
    (tags: ubicomp)
  • It seems contradictory to say, in the face of frequent complaints about information overload, that more information could be encalming. It seems almost nonsensical to say that the way to become attuned to more information is to attend to it less. It is these apparently bizarre features that may account for why so few designs properly take into account center and periphery to achieve an increased sense of locatedness. But such designs are crucial as we move into the era of ubiquitous computing. As we learn to design calm technology, we will enrich not only our space of artifacts, but also our opportunities for being with other people. When our world is filled with interconnected, imbedded computers, calm technology will play a central role in a more humanly empowered twenty-first century.
  • News from before the Irish became white: “US historians trying to uncover a mystery surrounding the mass death of 57 Irish immigrants nearly 180 years ago, have found evidence they may have been murdered. Previously it had been thought the group — they died within weeks of starting gruelling work on the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad in 1832 — were cholera victims. However, four skulls unearthed from the mass grave suggest the men suffered blows to the head and at least one may have been shot in an outpouring of anti-Irish violence.”
    (tags: history)
  • It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.
[To the tune of Miles Davis, “Amandla,” from the album Amandla (a 1-star song, imo).]