Information Shadows: How ubiquitous computing serializes everyday things. Mike Kuniavsky
A self-described user-experience designer. Author of Observing the User Experience. Now owner of a ubiquitous computing consumer products company.
Ubiquitous computing (UC) encompasses use of computers in everyday life (cell phones, talking refriderators, singing greeting cards, etc.) flattener # 10!! Resulted from commoditization of technology (i.e. the pental chip which cost $1500 in 1979 and 50 cents in 2008 with roughly the same power). His point is that “when something is cheap, you can have more than one of them.”
A “QR code” is an imprint that can be added to almost any physical thing and, when a handheld computer is pointed at it, will direct the computer to a url that contains information about the thing the imprint appears upon. For instance, food products point the user to nutrition information. The nutrition information is what Kuniavsky calls an “information shadow”. A “handle” is the term he uses for the imprint that allows one to make a connection to an object’s information shadow.
ThingM (a company that Kuniavsky is part of) makes it possible to access the information shadow of almost anything.
The distinction between an object, the digital representation of that object, and the object’s information shadow is becoming muddier through ubiquitous computing.
So, how does information shadows make everything a serial? His perspective of a serial is extremely accurate and interesting for someone with no library experience. He showed a drawing of a three dimensional box delineated by a dotted line. What he buys (with a subscription) is the possibility of an object rather than a specific object; it is an agreement between reader and publisher for ownership of the “rough outline” or the right to a class of things that changes with every instantiation. This enables us to take a whole new view of ownership and the potential to fundamentally change what it means to own anything. To take it a step further and give another example, why do I need to own a bicycle and my neighbor need to own a bicycle when we don’t typically use a bicycle at the same time? He broadened this example by describing existing a program in Germany called “Call a Bike” and is enabled by UC: you make a reservation for a bike. The bike has a computer chip and GPS signature which your phone allows you to unlock and use and then return. Your phone tracks and provides data that allow you to be billed for the time you used the bike. Thus everything becomes available by subscription!
This puts libraries and librarians at the forefront of this huge social shift because librarians have developed the means of “wrangling information shadows”. “The world of dotted line objects needs people who can organize information shadows.” That is do with information shadows of all kinds of objects what we already do with information shadows of books, etc.
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