The study of ubicomp (particularly Mark Weiser’s vision for an interconnected workplace) has always been one of my favorite topics in my study of UX. But one thing I’ve always found lacking in ubicomp is a greater discussion of the political implications of ubiquity, what the ramifications of embedding computers are in the scope of everyday life. Yvonne Rogers approaches this discussion from the perspective of “calm computing,” and makes the argument that we need to move towards a more proactive form of ubicomp that does not explicitly rely on technology to catalyze creativity:
Instead of augmenting the environment to reduce the need for humans to think for themselves about what to do, what to select, etc., and doing it for them, we should consider how UbiComp technologies can be designed to augment the human intellect so that people can perform ever greater feats, extending their ability to learn, make decisions, reason, create, solve complex problems and generate innovative ideas. (Rogers, p411)
DiSalvo’s approach to ubicomp through adversarial design seeks to accomplish many of the same goals as Rogers, albeit by utilizing the technologies themselves (in the form of articulative collections) to facilitate more holistic approaches to design:
Within the frame of adversarial design, the tactic of articu- lation constructs linkages between objects, people, and actions that transform them into an agonistic collective—an open space of contest in which the elements gathered together are able to act out a plurality of conflicting practices, values, and beliefs. (DiSalvo, p96)
The articulation of different devices within a collective of interconnected technologies allows for a new form of politics to emerge, and prompts the people using it to think more critically about its implications. I feel that as our lives become increasingly connected with the Internet, it is easy to lose sight of the consequences of our actions, both in the real and online spaces. Rather than merely rejecting ubicomp’s proposition of interconnectivity, DiSalvo instead introduces the idea of a countercolletive, which “[unhinge] the joints that bind another collective together…by leveraging qualities of connectedness and the interrelated dependencies that characterized connectedness.” (DiSalvo, p109) The result is an almost critical perspective on ubicomp; a sort of introspective that brings users into the discourse through its experience. Through articulation, we can better understand both how elements fit together in an ubicomp interaction, and the implications of the interaction of those elements on the world at large.