Sunday, August 16, 2009

Adam Greenfield's Principles of Ubiquitous Computing

Since I was introduced to Adam Greenfield via the July/August issue of Interactions magazine I have been searching for more content from him - essentially, I am trying to catch up on the last few years of Adam's writings regarding ubicomp since he offers unique and informed perspectives on this emergent phenomena. Needless to say, I have a long ways to go because much has been written and said by Mr. Greenfield.

Taking it one step at time, here I am going to focus on a set of principles for the design and implementation of ubiquitous computing that he has developed. These principles were shared back in 2006 in a talk that he gave titled Here, There and Everywhere: Issues in Cross-Cultural Ubiquitous Computing, which was delivered shortly after he wrote his first book.

I suspect that many of these ideas are captured in his book in greater depth, I will confirm that this is the case as soon as I get around to reading Everyware. I came across this information on the We Make Money Not Art blog, here is a direct link to the article.

What is the purpose and role of these principles: now that ubicomp is actually becoming ubiquitous it is important that devices and applications that deliver this type of computation are considerate to a human being's needs, desires, aspirations and dignity. In Adam's own words these "principles are just codifications of common sense and basic neighborly virtues, expressed in language appropriate to the domain of application. The best, smartest and most ethical developers have never needed guidelines to do the right thing."

Without further ado, here they are (please note that these have been taken verbatim from the We Make Money Not Art blog):
  1. Default to Harmlessness - in a world where it is possible for a device to broadcast your most intimate details, user's safety (physical, psychic and financial) must be ensured.
  2. Be Self-Disclosing - ubiquitous systems should be technically and graphically self-disclosing, so that users are empowered to make informed decisions.
  3. Be Conservative of Face - ubiquitous systems must not unnecessarily embarass, humiliate, or shame their users.
  4. Be Conservative of Time - Ubiquitous systems must not introduce undue complications into ordinary operations and should ba respectful of our time.
  5. Be Deniable - Ubiquitous systems must offer users the ability to opt out, always and at any point.

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