LIFT07: Everyware, further down the rabbit hole, Adam Greenfield

The terms for this stuff ("tangible media", etc.) are ugly, associated with funding sources, etc. He prefers term "Everyware".

Everyware: post-PC, information processing in objects and surfaces of everyday life. Mark Weiser of Xerox Parc: "invisible, but in the woodwork everywhere around us", and "the most profound technologies are those which disappear". (This is what I like about mobile)

Characteristics of Weisers ubicomp: embedded, wireless, imperceptible.

Information processing turns up in new places and takes on new tasks. e.g. iPhone (don't get this one), Nike iPod. People aren't thinking carefully about the ramifications.

Internet of things: "I can query a chair". These things can then talk to each other: personal biometric monitors, RFID transit passes, floor sensors, etc.

A class of systems that tends to colonise everyday life: leading to, e.g. Jeremy Bentham's panopticon. Everyware does something to surveillance: there are sensors of all sorts everywhere. e.g. the Internet toilet which reports details of your turds to (e.g.) your doctor. But it could go to Youtube! Surveillance is now a product not just of our willed actions, but of actions which we take without knowing it.

Things that were latent are brought to light (e.g. the enforced rating of your contacts as a friend, contact or family in Flickr: you have to choose!), just as things that were visible (machinery) are being made invisible.

This isn't science fiction. Ubiquity is latent in technical standards: IPv6 allows 6.5 x 10^23 addresses for every square metre on the earth's surface. By 2004, 95% of the Hong Kong population aged 16-65 were using RFID-based Octopus system. It's there now.

Designers of PC-era informatics don't worry about engaging their systems in the absence of an active decision to do so. With everyware, implicit actions can trigger activity. But people make mistakes: we press the wrong button, click the wrong link, etc. If I transmit my location information to everyone instead of just my friends... that's awful. Inadvertent unknown and unwilling use need to be addressed by designers: how can I choose to opt out of this infrastructure if I wish to - what are my rights? None of this stuff comes up with PC computing, but a serious concern for Everyware.

You can derive meaningful knowledge from inference by machines. But how I, as a participant, determine how these inferences were made or signal that they are invalid?

There are no longer any standalone products. Anything might talk to to anything. What can we do to accommodate unpredictable and undesired emergent behaviours?

Q: Is there a place for fake information, for masquerade in this world?

A: I don't see any way to avoid that. Metadata in the wild is rarely useful for long - look at P2P networks and the quality of information in them. People in MySpace list their age as 99,999 to be funny. We need a higher quality of interaction design to cope with this.

Q: Does investing physical space with a digital aura change the nature of that space?

A: Yes. The place where I first kissed my wife in Tokyo is meaningful. If I expose that it might have meaning. What about crime data - tagging locations where murders occur. Do you react differently to a space if you know there have been murders there? Of course.