Aachen Keynote 6 Dec 2013


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Keynote at Tag der Informatik, Aachen, Germany, 6th December 2013.


From buying plane tickets to eGovernment, participation in consumer and civic society is predicated on continuous connectivity and copious computation .  And yet for many at the edges of society, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and those in rural areas, poor access to digital technology makes them more marginalised, potentially cut off from modern citizenship.  I spent three and half months last summer walking 1700 kilometres around the margins of Wales in order to experience more directly some of the issues facing those on the physical edges of a modern nation, who are often also at the social and economic margins.  I will talk about some of the theoretical and practical issues raised; how designing software with constrained resources is more challenging but potentially more rewarding than assuming everyone lives with Silicon Valley levels of connectivity.  I will also talk about some of the more personal challenges of a major expedition and the lessons from this for those starting out on their careers.

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Aachen Keynote 6 Dec 2013

  1. 1. At the Edge Alan Dix Talis& University of Birmingham http://alandix.com/alanwalkswales/
  2. 2. about me and what I do
  3. 3. University of Birmingham Tiree Tiree Tech Wave 20-24 Mar’14
  4. 4. About Tiree 750 residents 20,000 summer visitors traditional agriculture common grazing poor mobile phone coverage
  5. 5. today I am not talking about … • intelligent internet interfaces • visualisation and sampling • situated displays, eCampus, small device – large display interactions • fun and games, virtual crackers, artistic performance, slow time • creativity and Bad Ideas • modellingdreams and regret • Tiree: mobile heritage & youth communication
  6. 6. let’s start with ...
  7. 7. graduating ... my first job
  8. 8. low tech / high tech? right tech
  9. 9. Christmas lights http:/www.hcibook.com/alan/projects/firefly/
  10. 10. I am really talking about ...
  11. 11. a walk 1058 miles (1700 km) around around the margins of Wales
  12. 12. Welsh Coast Path opened May 2012 linking existing paths a single way marked route with Offa’s Dyke encircles Wales three full traversals in 2012 (one running)
  13. 13. walking for war Roman Legions Napoleon in Russia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_legion The Long March http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_invasion _of_Russia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March
  14. 14. walking as political activism Salt March (India) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_March Jarrow March (UK) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article2257003/Last-Jarrow-Marchers-walked300-miles-London-poverty-protest-diesaged-96.html
  15. 15. walking as pilgrimage Camino http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W ay_of_St._James Char Dham http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrimage
  16. 16. walking in the humanities poetry & Romanticism (19th century) http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/britishwatercolours-developing-landscape-subjects/ psychogeography all method? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /Psychogeography
  17. 17. walking Wales
  18. 18. vision personal encircling, encompassing, pilgrimage, homecoming, practical IT for the walker & IT for local communities philosophical reflections on walking and space, locality and identity research personal agenda and living lab
  19. 19. no hard boundaries research – practice personal – philosophical 19th century science or Mediaeval?
  20. 20. walking as research slow! ... and hurts :-/ imposed time frame ... for good & ill waving banners using technology Q. “what technology do you use?” A. “a map” keeping moving, in the wet, ..
  21. 21. the best technology! voice recorder real buttons!! use it while moving
  22. 22. data location GPX ... batteries ... sporadic signals .... bio-sensing implicit ECG (heart), EDA (skin) and accelerometers audio and images in the moment text after the event explicit
  23. 23. at the margins
  24. 24. at the margins social marginality: poor, old, rural information marginality: poor connectivity, old devices IT deepens the divide ... but can IT help in the margins?
  25. 25. IT in the margins lessons from each other Harris Tweed hole in the wall simple SMS an old dream ... the electronic village shop what now? www.hole-in-the-wall.com
  26. 26. community and identity
  27. 27. community and cohesion abandonment and dissolution: Rhyl – dustbin of Liverpool Dee estuary – even the pubs closed internal strength Penmaenmawr – in the face of adversity community enterprise: shops, pubs, arts
  28. 28. language and culture intimately linked even for the non-Welsh speaker! changed in my lifetime but under threat again http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capel_Ce technological implications lyn not just translations ... media choice etc.
  29. 29. maps reclaiming the local map within technological space mapping never easier ... so long as it is ‘standard’ “Post-Renaissance maps cover the surface of the world with an homogeneous Cartesian grip” Barbara Bender local maps – local concerns
  30. 30. connectivity I expected it to be bad ... but it was worse
  31. 31. ... not a recent issue ...
  32. 32. always connected? mobile signal absent or weak broadband ... not so broad masts point to sea not land ... yachts = money https://explore.ee.co.uk/coverage-checker
  33. 33. infrastructure or privilege? what is the greatest British invention?
  34. 34. infrastructure or privilege? 19th century – Penny Post the amazing invention revolutionised communication Today – Internet 50% of Welsh schools say poor connectivity hampers education http://www.victorianweb.org/history/pennypos.html
  35. 35. software makes it worse ... Twitter 140 chars ... but unusable with poor signal heavy XML API ✗ email slow but works – 1970s technology ✔ Flickruploader freezes on poor connections ... even in Paris! ✗
  36. 36. ‘localisation’ not just language and culture software embodies context: technological and economic assumptions
  37. 37. health and well being
  38. 38. walking and health logistics and transport: constant stress!! ... and I was just visiting from mountain goat to geriatric and back health and wealth
  39. 39. 1058 miles done what next ... more: w: alandix.com/alanwalkswales t: @alanwalkswales f: facebook.com/alanwalkswales
  40. 40. thanks to ... ... and to everyone who helped, walked and supported one of the charities: http://alandix.com/alanwalkswales/participate/giving/