The latest issue of Interactions magazine features an article titled “When Users ‘Do’ The Ubicomp,” (subscription required to read the whole thing) which is the first academic-ish article I’ve read that addresses ubicomp the way I think about it.
Ubicomp futures tend to be portrayed as planned, coordinated, intentional, purposeful connections between the devices in our lives, chips embedded in our environment, utilizing protocols to interact with one another.
What the article points out is that ubicomp is here (you carry a mobile phone? smart phone? laptop? use a desktop computer?), and it’s messy, and uncoordinated. When I think of our Glorious Ubiquitous Future, I see the evolution of the messy uncoordinated technologies… I suspect the best plan of action is on the standards front, so that there’s some kind of unplanned but enabled interoperability, so that these components can work together in ways that haven’t been foreseen. This is the magic of open APIs on the Web, and that spirit will help as we move forward to situated contexts.