Goodbye Austin and SXSW2006

alamo draft house

Well, it took me until today to be able to write my goodbye to Austin. Man, that town and conference kicks some serious ass. Some of my favorite moments from this past week:

  • Bruce Sterling‘s closing remarks on the state of the world. I’ve never been moved to tears by a public speaker before… I’ve a new favorite author.
  • Running into Doc Searls after the Sterling presentation, and chatting with him for an hour about everything from our shared past in Jersey and Greensboro (my current residence) to our love of basketball to our vastly different experiences with the KKK (mine is through my brother’s documentary, you gotta ask Doc about his) and then hitting up a BBQ joint with Doc, Marc Canter, Nancy White and Jerry Michalski.
  • Experiencing Kirby Dick’s This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Alan Berlinger’s Wide Awake at the greatest theatre experience I’ve ever come across, the Alamo Drafthouse.
  • Adam Greenfield‘s ubiquitous computing presentation. (Adam is so very articulate and cultured, I can only hope that experience design is taken more seriously within the world of ubicomp than it is within the web) and Peter Morville‘s Ambient Findability presentation. Two very similar topics, yet two very different presentations.
  • Finally meeting Tish Grier, Will Giese, Thomas Vander Wal, Peter Merholtz, Tara Hunt and Chris Messina in person after months of blogging, commenting, plazing and flickring each other (did I say flickring?). And yes, I can confirm without a doubt that missrogue and factoryjoe are the web 2.0 version of Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Hitting up the town with Khoi, Chris, Ralph and Jeff. We were robbed of the SXSW Web Award for Best Green / Non-Profit site (mediamatters.org) damnit! So we drank more.
  • I only ran into one former collegue/friend at the conference — Dan Saffer — but I think I made a handful of new ones along the way.

I had a blast. And I’m looking forward to next year already.

SXSW2006 Day Three: Everyware – The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing

adam-greenfield

Adam Greenfield is dealing with Godly AI interfaces.

What is ubiquitous computing?

Well, what happens when computers get cheaper, faster, better? They become invisible, but all around us. The possibilities to crunch concepts, data, information explode. We move into a post-graphical user interface, from gesture to voice.

Multiple users, multiple spaces. Moving away from the one-to-one paradigm.

Human behavior and ubicomp become as one. “The activation process dissolves away into the behavior of people.” Ubicomp is already social. Once devices become ambient, social interactions can meld into a contextualization of backgrounds, ideas and relevance.

  • It’s present at the level of the body to world interface, as with data captures of physical movement to track, say, the range of motion of an elbow.
  • It’s present at the level of a particular space — a room — to a processor reading the reactions of the room.
  • It’s present at the street level, reacting to movement on the street and surveillance of social interactions

Ubicomp can crunch a variety of input or data, all passed through a relational database to construct information or entertainment for digestion.

People live life in real-time, while ubicomp works with their behavior to support their needs/desires. Space is never neutral, as the politics of position can be taken in numerous degrees.

Ubicomp is now. Why?

The digital home is the next big market and the future is structurally latent. (Crazy meta-meta-meta tagging in the real). Also, public safety comes into play. Post-9/11 mentality has crept in with, “Reduce the publics fear, reduce access and monitor activity.” We need to engage in ubicomp to control our destiny and the degree of misery which could be on the horizon.

Locus of attention disappears with ubicomp, so troubleshooting the invisible become a cognitive challenge. Signage is incredibly important to navigate the explicit behavioral captures of our implicit progression through our day-to-day.

The challenge of implicitness is… an ethical challenge.

5 guidelines of designing for ubiquitous computing

  1. Ubiquitous systems must default to a mode that ensures their users safety (physical, psychic and financial). Graceful degredation moved towards a default to harmlessness, based on cultural definitions.
  2. Be self-disclosing; ubicomp must contain provisions for immediate and transparent querying of their ownership, use, capabilities, etc. Seamless interaction in physical spaces must be optional, as ubicomp could invade the privacy of individuals. “Seemfullness with beautiful seems.”
  3. Be conservative of face; allowing people to save face. Ubicomp must not unnecessarily embarrass, humiliate or shame their users. Humane interfaces must be taken into consideration, especially while designing the experience of invisible ubicomp systems.
  4. Be conservative of time
  5. Be deniable; allow for the opt out of the program at any time. Alternatives should be provided to people who want to avoid these systems.

Disclaimer: This is live blogging; all quotes are paraphrases.