by Mark Weiser, father of Ubiquitous Computing and former Chief Technologist of
Xerox PARC March 1996 (died in late 1996)
... "The first wave of computing, from 1940 to about 1980, was dominated by many
people serving one computer. The second wave, still peaking, has one person and
one computer in uneasy symbiosis, staring at each other across the desktop
without really inhabiting each other's worlds. The third wave, just beginning,
has many computers serving each person everywhere in the world. I call this last
wave "ubiquitous computing" or "ubicomp".
Over the next twenty years computers will inhabit the most trivial things:
clothes labels (to track washing), coffee cups (to alert cleaning staff to moldy
cups), light switches (to save energy if no one is in the room), and pencils (to
digitize everything we draw). In such a world, we must dwell with computers, not
just interact with them. Interacting with something keeps it distant and
foreign. If you are only interacting with your spouse the relationship may be in
trouble. We dwell with nature, and roommates, and anything that we let enter us,
and we it. Dwelling with computers means that they have their place, and we
ours, and we co-exist comfortably. Unfortunately, our existing metaphors for
computers (and nature, for that matter) are inadequate to describe the
"dwelling" relationship. And no metaphor is more misleading than "smart".
"Smart House": Does this mean any more than a house with a computer in it? Does
it mean anything like "Better House"? Do we really think that everything in the
world would be better if it were smarter? Smart Cappuccino? Smart Park? The
"Smart House"of 1935 had an electric light in every room. The "Smart House" of
1955 dared to put a TV and a telephone in every room. And the "Smart House" of
2005 will have computers in every room. But what will they do?
I believe that the smart house of 2005 will be a lot like the smart house of
1801, which had a *book* in every room. Those books brought other worlds and
ideas into the homes and minds of the time. Similarly, the imbedded computers of
2005 will bring other worlds to us in new ways-- sometimes in ways so
unobtrusive we will not even notice our increased ability for informed action.
We will dwell with these computers, whose presence we will ignore most of the
time, and they will provide us with constant clues about our environment, our
loved ones, ourown past, the objects around us and the world beyond our home.
Computers will act like books, windows, walks around the block,phone calls to
relatives. They won't replace these, but augment them, make them easier, more
Ubiquitous computing will not make our houses "smarter". It is commonly believed
that thinking makes one smart. But it's frequently the opposite: in many
situations,the less you have to think about the smarter you are. Who's smarter,
the beginning piano student who thinks about each note, or the artist who thinks
about the music and lets the notes take care of themselves? Who's smarter, Deep
Blue analyzing billions ofmoves, or Kasparov, who wins the game after analyzing
three hundred? In each case the expert can think about *less* because long
practice has made it unnecessary to attend to the details. Previous revolutions
in computing were about bigger, better, faster, smarter. In the next revolution,
as we learn to make machines that take care of our unconscious details, we might
finally have smarter people. ...
.... We become smarter as we put our roots deeper into what is around us. The
house of the future will become one giant connection to the world-- quietly and
unobtrusively, as naturally as we know it is raining, or cold, or that someone
is up before us in the kitchen making breakfast. Ubiquitous computing just might
help to free our minds from unnecessary work, and connect us to the fundamental
challenge that humans have always had: to understand the patterns in the
universe and ourselves within them."
Mark Weiser. "Open House". in Review, the web magazine of the Interactive
Telecommunications Program of New York University. March 1996, ITP Review 2.0,
Jack Park wrote:
> http://www.handhelds.org/ <http://www.handhelds.org/>
> "Our goal is to encourage and facilitate the creation of open source
> software for use on handheld and wearable computers. We welcome
> participation and sponsorship by individuals, groups and companies seeking
> to further this goal."
> There's some really cool stuff here. So much for my Palm Pilot!
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