Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I am at the Ubicomp conference in Nottingham. Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate and present at the Urban Frontier workshop run by Eric Paulos and Ken Anderson of Intel PAPR. Although it was a long day, with many many 8mins presentations and question time, it was really interesting to see so many different presentation styles, disciplinary approaches and projects. The workshop featured anthropologists, sociologists, designers, computer scientists, architects, urban planners and artists. Some projects were interesting, some less so, but overall it was very enjoyable. I received some thought provoking questions that will help me frame my work going forward given the Routemaster was officially retired last Friday night. I also had the chance to talk with Dr Janet Abrams, the Director of the Design Institute at the University of Minnesota. She gave a fascinating and deliberately controversial opening keynote presentation this morning - Ubiquity/Urbiquity: the B.U.G. and other Ludic(rous) Pursuits. Amongst other things she challenged the concept of ‘ubiquitous computing’ and the ‘user’ - specifically asking why we need more technology, everywhere, why every encounter has to be mediated by a digital device, why users tend to be flavourless, anonymous and cut from the same cloth and what adding an extra layer to everyday encounters actually delivers. It was a great critical start to the conference given the posters and demonstrations of all the new, innovative and sexy applications and devices had just been set up in the entrance halls.
- kat