Shelves: science Published in , but I read this in The most interesting part of this book was to see how far technology has advanced in those 7 years. A very tech-heavy book, but a fascinating read, albeit a bit dated at this point. Apr 12, Weixiang rated it really liked it Concise, thematic, academic approach towards the study of ubiquitous computing.

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Adam has spoken frequently on issues of design, culture, technology and user experience before a wide variety of audiences. Leading the conversation with Adam is former Inkwell host Jon Lebkowsky. His current consulting practice focuses on web usability and strategy and effective use of online social technologies. He is also a strong proponent of universal broadband access to computer networks.

Welcome, Adam and Jon! Adam, your interest in ubiquitous computing comes from a user experience perspective. What were you seeing or hearing that led you to believe that user experience issues might not be addressed very well by developers of pervasive or ubiquitous systems?

Because one of the things I learned when I first set out to do the research for "Everyware" was that there are a whole lot of "ubiquitous computings" floating around out there, and some fairly wide divergence in the way people understand these terms.

Mark had a very clear understanding that the personal computer as we know it was not the final stage in the evolution of information technology - that, as a matter of fact, it was something like a transitional state between the early mainframes and something entirely new, which he set out to define.

And - to get back to your question, now - it was this that really triggered my concern. Nor does it account for the time we spend undoing the damage done by "helpful" systems, when they wrest control away from us and e. But how about when this standard of pleasure in use is applied to all those interactions that go to make up a normal day? Do you want to configure your toothbrush, or reboot your sweater, or hunt around for the command that will allow your tabletop to "discover" the water pitcher?

Or about network overhead, potential crashes, etc? They may have thought about the specific system at hand, but as a gestalt?

I had described the usability of many Web sites as "atrocious," and gotten some really quizzical responses. One of the more prominent figures in ubicomp took issue with that characterization, pointing out that one could nominally do things on the Web in that were effectively impossible to achieve for any amount of love or money in Which is undoubtedly true - but is to mistake utility for usability.

I have little doubt that expert users will be able to do thing with ubiquitous systems that are indeed all but "indistinguishable from magic. But like I said, that was four years ago, and one upside to the fact that these systems are much closer to appearing in our lives is that the discourse of usability has begun to sneak in around the edges - as a business necessity, if nothing else.

What are some familiar examples of good vs bad usability? And some potential examples from the future world of ubiquitous computing? I could, for example, talk about some recognized, more-or-less canonical examples of good usability in information-processing products and services.

And then we could spend some time talking about how hard it will be to design everyware so that it meets that definition of the usable. Given that everyware is, by definition, information processing embedded in the objects and surfaces and contexts of everyday life, I think we need to have much, much higher expectations of it if it is not to drive all of us completely out of our minds with frustration and rage.

The standard I have in mind for usability is something like a chair. Nobody ever had to tell you how to use it. You can move it from one room, or context, to another, and it works just the same there as it did before. It never crashes, it never needs to be rebooted, it can be enjoyed by anyone from toddlers on up, and - short of a catastrophic structural failure - will afford its users both functionality and pleasure for many, many years.

Anything less than that And they offered a few insights into how one might go about designing such a thing - strategies that had a lot to do with moving information from the center of our attention to what they called "the periphery. It implies that developers will be able to exert decisive control over the final shape of the systems they bring into being, almost all of the time, and that that final shape will be informed primarily by the needs and preferences of the end user.

That benevolent developers, looking forward, will see the pitfalls awaiting their users, and plan accordingly. In fact, there are all kinds of pressures operating in the business of technology development that tend to make it rather unlikely. With the kind of experience and credentials they could call on, Weiser and Brown could have gone so much further in terms of suggesting what it might mean to "encalm as well as inform," and how a development organization would go about responding to a challenge like that.

Or should engineers have user experience incorporated into their educations? All of the above? So when you ask me to suggest alternatives OK, I lie. We each have our skillsets, our affinities, and our professional responsibilities, and I think that given the complexity of the artifacts we produce this kind of specialization is here to stay.

So the organization as an organic whole is going to have to get better at incorporating user-experience perspectives into its process. And this is why I argue that user experience considerations - and allied pursuits, like user ethnographic studies - should be pushed much earlier in the development process, into the requirements-gathering or discovery phase of a project.

But the Orb and the Nabaztag both strike me as being kind of twee and "futuristic," the kind of thing that only a relatively small number of self-consciously early adopters will ever pick up on.

Mazel tov! I have a much more personal question: how did your early experiences growing up, and then your Special Ops training etc. To put it another way, why did the subject choose you to write about it -- which you did magnificently? Steve, thanks so much for those kind words. As to your question How can we represent such prerogatives in language that they themselves would recognize?

Not, anyway, in any form that would give people a fighting chance of pushing back against the aura of inevitability that was already gathering around it. In that context, the object is to create such a feeling of momentum around some desired change that resistance to it is effectively pointless. But you can also invert that, undermine that sense. Because an aura is just that.

The intent of all this pushing back is not necessarily to prevent everyware from coming into being. What kinds of overlap do you see with your own concepts? In fact, I wish he had come out with it three months earlier, as it would have had a big influence on some of the arguments I make in "Everyware" had I seen it in time.

The ID3 tags that identify attributes of an MP3 such as "Artist," "Title" and "Album," or the EXIF data that tell when, how, and by what model of device a digital image was produced are two familiar kinds of metadata. Who has the authority to append metadata? Who has the responsibility, or even the technical wherewithal, to verify it? Well and good as a thought experiment, but the presence and location of air pollution is hardly a neutral topic. No way! People are going to be gaming this stuff silly, and all the more so because like all everyware blogjects take information that has always been latent in the world and represent it to us in a way that profoundly affects our decisions and options in real space and time.

But I think the credibility of blogject traces is always going to be in play. Those effects reacquire some of the aura of inevitability we were talking about.


Inkwell: Authors and Artists

Adam has spoken frequently on issues of design, culture, technology and user experience before a wide variety of audiences. Leading the conversation with Adam is former Inkwell host Jon Lebkowsky. His current consulting practice focuses on web usability and strategy and effective use of online social technologies. He is also a strong proponent of universal broadband access to computer networks. Welcome, Adam and Jon!


Everyware : The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing


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