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P2 Lecture 5


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Lecture ppt notes for Theories and Interpretation of Interactive Media course by professor Frans Mäyrä

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P2 Lecture 5

  1. 1. Theories and interpretation of interactive media 5 / Vuorovaikutteisen median teoriat ja tulkinta 5 Frans Mäyrä Professor of hypermedia, esp. digital culture and game studies University of Tampere, Hypermedia Laboratory
  2. 2. Lecture 5: Laptop / ubiquity: Approaches to omnipresent IT
  3. 3. Outline • Increasing ubiquity of ICT • Ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing • Calm technology, ambient intelligence etc. • Being augmented by technology, being amputated • Pervasive new media as prosthetic technology • Laptop, a symbol of “digital life” • Augmented memory, perception • Location based media
  4. 4. Number of computers • The number of personal computers in use is currently estimated to approach 1 billion (expected to reach 2 billion in just five more years of time)* • Simultaneously, UN estimated in 2004 that 1 billion people, 20 % of global population lacks any contact to ITC • In developed countries the Internet penetration has rapidly risen and is over 50 %, while growth in developing countries development is slower (c. 6-7% of population)** • Most new computers are connected to the Internet • Internet usage through mobile phone has been increasing • Majority of microprocessors is used in embedded IT *) Source: Forrester, via **)
  5. 5. Directions of omnipresence • Traditionally only God was granted omnipresence • Today, computers and telecommunication networks (ICT) are linked to vision where they become ubiquitous, omnipresent • There appears two directions of ubiquitous ICT: the “mundane” ubiquity will involve particularly the near future of smart phones and laptop computers • The “sublime” version of ubiquity is more focused on radical and revolutionary potentials of artificial intelligence/life, embedded and proactive computing and distributed sensor networks • Roles of individuals and media are different in these visions
  6. 6. Ubiquitous computing • As proposed by Mark Weiser (Xerox PARC), “ubicomp” is third wave of computing, following mainframe (single machine, many users), and personal computing era (single PC, single user) • In an ubicomp environment, many computers continuously serve any single individual • Embodies principles of calm technology where computers are not the focus of attention but rather remain in the background and periphery • Philosophically the opposite of VR (virtual reality): the goal is not to move people to the world of computers but to force computers to live in the world of humans See:
  7. 7. Everyware • Adam Greenfield’s book (2006) aims to put forward central “theses” of ubiquitous computing • About “vision of processing power so distributed throughout the environment that computers per se effectively disappear” (cf. Disappearing Computer, Ambient Intelligence, EU initiatives) • In everyware, “all the information we now look to our phones or Web browsers to provide becomes accessible just about anywhere, at any time, and is delivered in a manner appropriate to our location and context” See:
  8. 8. “The average employee’s attention span is, at most, 12 minutes. The average worker switches to a different task every three minutes and gets Pervasive interrupted every two minutes, says Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who studies the effects of multitasking on absentmindedness workers.”* • What are the social and cultural conditions associated with pervasive, ubiquitous, ambient media or ITC? • In cognitive terms, it is impossible to design information systems so that they would still convey information, and not create cognitive load • When there is an increase of information sources, danger of “information glut” (information fatigue, anxiety) also increases • In addition, increasing multitasking can be associated with attention problems • ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder): the new most “symptomatic” disease of our time? See. A. Toffler (1970) Future Shock; P.J. Jennings (2006) & *) deficit/articles/multitasking-add-and-the-workplace/
  9. 9. Being amputated by ITC • According to McLuhan, being extended by technology also means being subjected to “self-amputation” – “Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body (...). Physiologically, man in the normal use of his technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it (...).” (Understanding media, p. 8) • As we delegate our physical motions, sensations and even memory and thought processes to technology, our intrinsic capabilities are simultaneously reduced • Theorists of “cyborg subjectivity” often describe our relation to e.g. car, calculator or Internet in terms of prosthesis See: Donna Haraway (1991), Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature; p.149- 181:
  10. 10. Laptop as prosthetic technology • In the following portable personal computer (laptop PC) is taken as an exemplary context for mundane “everyware” • Laptop is where PC becomes particularly personal • The physical characteristics of a laptop PC are important, since it is tool which is typically carried around and used in multiple situations and positions • The archaeology of data captured by our laptops provides particular, filtered and selected mediation of our lives, stratified in historical layers
  11. 11. Source: Quotes: “perfectly designed for your mobile lifestyle” … “Every MacBook comes with iLife ’08 — an amazing suite of applications that make it easy to live the digital life” … “share entire high-res photo albums” … “Record your own songs and podcasts” … “Break into indie filmmaking” … “take all the stuff you made on your MacBook and share it on the web in one click”
  12. 12. Images source: photos tagged ‘laptop’ in
  13. 13. Digital life? • Nicholas Negroponte, the founding director of MIT Media Lab put forward in his book (1995) views that were influential in defining a “digital lifestyle” • In a 1996 column, Negroponte wrote how “portable computers are also for peripatetic, digital people. These are people who need more than a high-octane computer - they need a constant digital presence”* (opened in 2005 One Laptop Per Child initiative) • Laptop can be read as a symbol for symbiotic relationship with ICT: memory, communication, self-expression, leisure, work, private and professional identity are all relayed and acted out through the laptop • Mobile phones and home media centres compete for similar roles Source:
  14. 14. Augmented memory? • As memory is augmented by digital media, the properties of media entangle with memory processes • E.g. as personal discussions are remembered with the help of archived email or chat discussions, it becomes possible to refer back to “evidence” • Forgetting and change are parts of organic evolutionary processes • Digitally augmented memories are hybrid creations, recreations with partially objective and subjective elements • Cf. Roland Barthes’s analysis of photography and memory in La Chambre claire (1980): studium vs. punctum (meaning derived from shared, cultural/political codes vs. personally touching/wounding detail)
  15. 15. Theory into experiment • MyLifeBits project: aims for a lifetime store of “everything” • MS researcher Gordon Bell who has “captured a lifetime's worth of articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, and voice recordings and stored them digitally. He is now paperless, and is beginning to capture phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio”* • Cf. Steve Mann, who uses wearable IT to record everything he sees, wherever he goes • A politically utopian and activist project, to attack increasingly ubiquitous institutional surveillance with personal “sousveillance” Sources: *)
  16. 16. CyborGLOGGING, ‘glog’: “a first-person recording of an activity, in which the person doing the recording is a participant in the activity” - see a video sample, Image source:
  17. 17. Location based new media • As ICT becomes mobile and attached as augmentations to our personal space, increasing contextual awareness will be required • Location based media is related to the concept of “augmented reality” (AR): multimedia content that is somehow tailored for this particular location, or provided as an “overlay” on top of it • Typical implementations include multimedia tours and AR systems whose uses range from tourism to gaming • Location based services more generally play an increasing role in mobile media • Galloway and Ward have theorised “locative media” as form of social interaction with a place and with technology* Source: *)
  18. 18. From laptop to mobile phone • The dominant interface of PC is based on a typewriter, suggesting document-based mode of use (cf. media archaeology of telephones) • The ‘media ecology’ surrounding mobile/pervasing ICT use has produced increasingly hybrid configurations in both socio-cultural (use) and technological areas (device multi-purposing) • Detachment of phone from home/office has allowed more individualised phone cultures to evolve • E.g. Japanese culture of emailing through mobile phones, Finnish mobile culture with SMS & ‘häläri’ calls (pager style use of mobile call) Image sources: &
  19. 19. Image sources: Google Mobile Maps, - Nokia Maps navigointia-matkapuhelimella,4
  20. 20. Location based audio • Mobile phone’s “native” modality is audio communication • Yet, most mobile media efforts are emphatically PC-centric in their focus on keyboard & screen interaction • Experimental audio dramas have made use of location awareness, e.g. Riot! 1831 (Mobile Bristol), Murmur (2003) and Static (2007) implemented in Toronto • As user generated content is combined with location awareness, an expanded design space is achieved • E.g. WikEar: draws information about sights in Berlin from Wikipedia articles and organises it into automatically generated spatial narrative structures • Even location based audio shooter has been developed: Demor (2004) Sources:,,, & http://www.deutsche-, http://student-
  21. 21. Image source: http://student-
  22. 22. Location based media vs. mobile social service • “Mobile media” can be conceptualised in multiple ways • If taken as availability of traditional media through mobile devices, it will not radically alter the character of media per se • If taken as a site for the communicational, participatory potentials, decentralisation of authorship, new forms of collaboration and social networking, more novelty value, hype and transformative potential is perceived