I am sort of confused about this paper so here are my thoughts

The author, creator, designer etc: I feel this is a paper written for HCI people or for people who attend ubicomp conferences. It seems like the author is trying to make a case for ubicomp and a potential use for ubicomp. He is proposing a new way of thinking about the use of ubicomp and design it-self.

The main reason I say he is proposing a new way of thinking about design itself is because he says “the design of spore 1.1 evokes political issues without resolving them.”  It isn’t really producing solutions but exposing current states. Which is similar to all the arguments we had towards why Warhol is art!

The work itself

The design of the system identifies the factors at play and establishes their relationships and possible consequences, but it leaves open the space of interpretation and contest. 

DiSalvo’s explanation on what spore 1.1 does would be my definition of critical design. Again he is strongly interested in highlighting existing relationships and leaving it open for debate. The interesting difference is in the notion of “connectedness“. Compared to Blood bag radio the designs DiSalvo talks about have a lot more working parts. The combination of several seemingly independent objects linked together creates something new and brings out something political in nature. The key emphasis the DiSalvo makes is that when the pieces come together, they form something with a completely new meaning which is more than a sum of its parts.

“As devices of articulation, the products of ubicomp join together, by design multiple elements in a manner that transforms the identity and meaning of those elements and results in a new object-an articulated collective.”

I seriously can’t see the difference between this and critical design. If we compare this to Dunne and Raby’s blood bag radio, I don’t see a lot of difference. Sure BBR has  less working parts, but when you look at the materiality of the items, the individual parts and their actual use, it is very different from the way it reads when you look at BBR holistically. For example; the bag looks like a bear. If you really think about it, a blood bag can infact look like a bear. Especially in the context of a children’s hospital. But the moment you attach the energy context to it, that the blood is from a pet, it changes the way you look at the bag. Now, it is a vision of the future. It exposes the energy crisis and potentially how far we are willing to go get energy for our radios.

From this point, things get a little blurry for me since he just seems to be interested in merging words! I will post more about this later, but does my summary make sense? Am I understanding this correctly or has this completely flown over my head?

What are your thoughts on this paper?