November 05, 2003

the cybernomadic experience

Last week I attended a stimulating conference with the somewhat unwieldy title "Space, Place and Ubiquitous Technology: The Cybernomadic Experience", produced by the fine folks at the Institute for the Future. The central premise of the session was that the emergence of ubiquitous and connective technologies (our usual suspects such as wireless networks, physical and digital tagging, location and context awareness, personal and embedded devices, sensor nets, flexible displays etc) creates dislocations and transformations in the way we experience and interact with places and spaces in the physical world. Through research, observational work and analysis (some of which is nicely documented in raw form on this blog), IFTF developed a series of insights and implications which became the core material for the conference.

The IFTF team used a technique that I thought worked well. They created a series of artifacts from the future circa 2013, designed to highlight key observations from the research. For example, a nomadic mapping tool called "Mapgeste" provided a dynamic view into the resources, focal points and social overlays that its owner would find useful in a visit to San Francisco. The full presentation of seven artifacts is now posted here, and is worth a close look. The assumptions about technical feasibility in these scenarios are obviously debatable, but that's mostly beside the point. The goal was to identify interesting shifts in the social, economic and commercial landscape that result from new technologies applied in new ways.

Having worked on ubicomp technology research for several years, I find myself drawn increasingly to discussions like this conference. There is such a strong need for sensemaking, for building a pragmatic understanding of how the confluence of so many new technologies will play out in the social and physical architecture of our lives. In the deeply connected world there is great positive potential for the amplification of human abilities, and also great potential for social harm. We need to have some idea of what kind of world we are setting ourselves up for; I'm afraid 'que sera, sera' isn't a good enough answer.

Posted by Gene at November 5, 2003 11:47 PM | TrackBack

Hi, the link that you post of the "full presentation of seven artifacts is now posted here" doesn't work. Do you have a copy of the presentation? I'm very interested...

Kind regards

Posted by: Maurits at June 6, 2004 03:10 PM
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