Sunday, 27 July 2014


It is a matter of dependency that lends a sceptical air to the ongoing debate about ubiquity, the question of how much is too much. Greenfield’s “everyware” (15) and Gershenfeld’s “Internet-0” (78) both offer the potential for a “seamless” media experience, in which such luxuries as having an episode of Game of Thrones follow you around the house through internet-connected wallpaper if you want to head downstairs to put on dinner while keeping tabs on how little Jon Snow still knows become a reality. But as McCullough points out: “… we can observe plenty of annoyance in the form of petty information pollution” (15) – do we really need, or want, to be so seamlessly connected to everything that customised ads will pop up on the insides of our internet-connected glasses while walking (or, Heaven forbid, driving) past a Bluetooth-enabled billboard?

And that’s without even considering the potential for hacking into somebody’s internet-connected wallpaper, or kitchen sink, or duvet – the locks on our doors could be hacked, giving new meaning to the term “keylogging”. In the ubiquitous media future, will our clothes require antivirus protection? A convenient ubiquitous computing future is also one that requires IT knowledge to be widespread to navigate it safely – the user becomes responsible for knowing far too much, and the issue of information “pollution” becomes “overload”.

Jonathan Grudin highlights some of these practical issues by observing technology used in boardroom meetings, and the temporal difference between transitory “face-to-face” interactions and social cues and those made permanent and (potentially) public by recording/surveillance media. Ubiquity offers a future in which everything is useable and everyone a user, but the catch is that everyone is also everything – if this is Deuze’s concept of the immersive “media life” (138), then it follows that every user can also be used, anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

(Grudin Article:

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