Monday, February 27, 2006

Hiding in Plain Sight: An Interview with Adam Greenfield

Interview on the pervasiveness of computing...

"Boxes and Arrows caught up with Adam Greenfield on the heels of finishing his first book, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, due out in March 2006. Greenfield talks to us about how computing has moved away from the desktop into every part of our lives—from soda cans to the family pet. In this interview, he allows us to imagine what our new normal might look like.

Boxes and Arrows: Congratulations on your book! What is “everyware?” Is it different from what we already know as “ubiquitous computing,” “pervasive computing,” or “invisible computing?”

Adam Greenfield: “Everyware” is computing that is everywhere around us, yet is relatively hard to see, both literally and figuratively. Broadly speaking, it is what you get when you take the information processing we associate with the personal computer and distribute it throughout the environment—embedding it in walls, floors, appliances, lampposts, even clothing. I also use the word to refer to the relatively novel interface conventions everyware requires: gestural, tangible and haptic interfaces, and to some extent, voice recognition.

The fact that it is so powerful—so insinuative and at the same time so hard to discern—makes it different in kind from the informatics we’ve grown so used to over the last twenty or twenty-five years of the PC era.

“Everyware” has a lot in common with the contemporary discourses of ubiquitous computing, so why coin an entirely new term? Each of the terms already in use—”ubicomp,” “pervasive computing,” “tangible media,” “physical computing,” and so on—is contentious. They’re associated with one or another viewpoint, institution, funding source, or dominant personality. I wanted people relatively new to these ideas to be able to have a rough container for them, so they could be discussed without anyone getting bogged down in internecine definitional struggles, like “such-and-such a system has a tangible interface, but isn’t really ubicomp.”"   continued ...   (Via Boxes and Arrows)

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