Greenfield Reading Response

Look, I’m all for ringing alarm bells willy nilly, but I strain to find a reason for which Adam Greenfield should be proven correct in his far-reaching article wherein he predicts the future of ubiquitous computing. He wavers from design questions to security questions, from aesthetics to mechanics, and from exclaiming the benefit to the user and denigrating the potential harm it can do. I’m all for hypocrisies, but, please spare me the “Big Brother is Watching” nonsense, and the “the future is coming” prophesy.

Usually, in order to scare the living daylights out of me with spook stories of government surveillance, I require a little evidence. Greenfield gives none. Sure, let’s develop ethical guidelines for the use of these technologies, but Greenfield gives none. We’re left with a few of his charming suggestions that, really, will be extremely nice if implemented. I have little hope.

Did you ever read David Sedaris’ book “When You Are Engulfed In Flames?” In it, he describes visiting Japan and staying in an apartment where the toilet beeped throughout the night. Not for any real reason. Not, “flush me,” or, “clean me.” Just letting you know that it’s there, ready for use at a moment’s notice. Our future will be like this. A toilet so smart that it can measure the amount of iron in your diet, but so profoundly ill-designed that it will keep us awake at night. No ethical, moral or design-minded guidelines will prevent this, because people in companies don’t talk to one another, and the one’s who do are too high up to care.

Maybe when Apple stops making TVs and Phones and Magic Wands and Coffins and finally settles down to design it’s iToilet will this be considered (because designers are gods at Apple and nobody has really caught onto this yet). But until then, as Adam fears, we’ll be surrounded by chirping, beeping, vibrating, reactionary crap.

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reading response – Greenfield

As I was reading this article, I thought about what ubiquitous computing represents and reflected the challenges I had from working on class projects. As Greenfield points out the essential challenges for designers of ubicomp are accommodating effective usage of technology and intuitive user interactions. Conversely, what does ubiquitous computing enable that other technology can’t? Is this just an additive value?

The parts that caught my attention from the article were Principle 3 and 5. I believe the most effective area of ubiquitous computing is public intervention. In Principle 3, he mentions that the prevention should not embarrass, humiliate, or shame their users. In Principle 5, Greenfield suggests that there should be a deniable option. I an relate to his arguments why it is important. However, in ubiquitous computing intervention, as there’s no obligation is required like law reinforcement, how could it be effective? In my humble opinion, ubiquitous computing still remains as theory and experiment stage. The only way we can find out the effectiveness of ubiquitous computing is by creating more prototypes and actually implementing it in real life situation.

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Reading response – Information Shadows

An interesting angle on information shadows that Kuniavsky doesn’t really address is the far edge of the definition of “object” or “thing”. He does talk about the distinction in IDing electronic and non-electronic items. But let’s carry this to it’s furthest conceptual possibilities. The question of quantifying non-solid materials (liquids, gases) is partially addressed by IDing the containers used to hold them. But what about items that change state or evolve in form throughout time? There is speculation about embedding unique identifiers in people and animals. (Social Security Numbers could be considered the unique tags of U.S. citizens, but that bond is legally enforced, not physically.) Does the stark contrast in form throughout a moth’s life challenge it’s ability to be tagged?

Incidentally, when Kuniavsky references Coates’ “point-at things” I couldn’t help but to make the link to pointers in computer programming. Pointers reference actual locations in memory by address (“name”). The phrase “handle” is also popular in programming. The idea that a variable is a handle that allows you to “pick up” and reference a value in memory is useful metaphor.

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Reading response – “All watched over by machines of loving grace”

In five principles, Greenfield summarizes some of the most fundamental privacy considerations that the promise of ubiquitous computing presents – personal safety, disclosure of surveillance, consideration of emotional state, avoidance of aggravation, and the requirement of permission. What I find most interesting about Greenfield’s heuristics is the nod to third-party structures, regulations, conventions, laws, and codes that would presumably exist to protect consumer rights and privacy. Will we be seeing an ubicomp equivalent to the Good Housekeeping Seal Of Approval (referenced by comment “2004/11/03 @ 23:47PM”)? Will we be seeing an analog to the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative? And where will the ACLU be in all of this?

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Reading respond- All watched over by machines of loving grace

In this writing Adam Greenfield writes about the basics and introduction to ubiquitous computing. I really like how he explains the model for designers. Reading the steps of the model can be a little bit overwhelming in this age but I can clearly see from which point he is coming and how this can be embedded to our technology in the near future. I really appreciate the detailed explanation and what makes me really excited about this writing is that the belief that we have in ubicomp and the structuring how should we use it to be more efficient. I totally agree with his 5th principle and I can relate how that can effect the ubiquitous computing, even now denial is an important step and shouldn’t be avoided, given the chance of denial meant a big step in the futuristic computing. I just feel very lucky to be in the time that these thoughts are not scary and we already accept them but we are still cautious for the future, which makes it more real to me. “first, do no harm”, this explains a lot and should be initial in every steps we are taking when we are designing for now and future.

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All watched over by machines of loving grace – response

This article is important in addressing the most basic worries about ubi comp. There is still an interesting tension between what currently exists and what we are imagining in the future. Adam Greenfield outlines the technologies that are currently available to allow for the future of ubi comp, but we are currently immersed in ubi comp experiences. I don’t know if I believe that people actually want to be watched over. This point came up in class and it seemed logical, but I am unsure if this is realistically true. All of the wikileaks and the hacker actions in response show how technology is changing the landscape from the point of government as well as individuals. The size and complexity of embedding computers in every aspect of our lives is a large undertaking and huge consequences can arise. Recent digital activism has shown that there are checks and balances in relation to large-scale digital systems. The point is there needs to be a responsibility to humanity ind assigning future systems so that we don’t end up in a dis-topian sci-fi novel. Greenfield places that responsibility on our shoulders as interaction designers which gives validity to our studies.

Matt Ruby

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Anticipation Hues

Anticipation Hues is a lighted notification system for subway car activity that is two-fold; displaying the activity within each car of the train when the train is approaching and also conveying information shadows of the forthcoming subway cars when the train is not in the station. The system aims to alter the ways in which we currently utilize the subway and allow subway users to make more educated decisions about which car they choose, ultimately enabling the user to have a more enjoyable ride.

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