8 December 2007

Ubiquity

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William Gibson
Richard Titus, acting head of user experience at BBC Future Media and Technology, quotes on his blog an excerpt from an interview Rolling Stone did with William Gibson (author of Neuromancer and Spook Country, and coiner of the term Cyberspace).

“Totally ubiquitous computing. One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn’t cyberspace is going to be unimaginable. When I wrote Neuromancer in 1984, cyberspace already existed for some people, but they didn’t spend all their time there. So cyberspace was there, and we were here. Now cyberspace is here for a lot of us, and there has become any state of relative nonconnectivity. There is where they don’t have Wi-Fi.

In a world of superubiquitous computing, you’re not gonna know when you’re on or when you’re off. You’re always going to be on, in some sort of blended-reality state. You only think about it when something goes wrong and it goes off. And then it’s a drag.”

Titus then continues with his own reflections:

“This essentially frames an argument/discussion I’ve been having for quite a while at the BBC. The web is no longer a place to be visited, a languid information (“super”) highway akin to route 66 where you stop in for a donut or a soda every few miles at yahoo or ask for directions at Google. I actually bought a copy of a wall sized “Map” of the internet in 1996 which I still have to be framed one day.

The net today is a thing we can only take brief momentary snapshots of, like photos out of a moving vehicle – in fact that’s really what widgets are are special cameras which allow us to capture some of the data running around the net into a single, momentary user experience.

The world is moving to a dynamic, context driven, xml & atom feed universe where content is living breathing organic matter.. we cannot contain it we can simply offer a prism or a lens through which to momentarily view it. Something often described as a widget…”

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