A few weeks ago, Roo and I met Kim at Hursley. During the discussion we covered Declarative Living, Twitter, etc. and she recommended the book Everyware by Adam Greenfield. I ordered a copy there and then.
Subtitled “The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing”, the book covers a number of themes around the emergence of pervasive technology and devices, and the path to a possible future which might be more of similar to that depicted in the film Minority Report, or aspects of the world from Philip K. Dick’s book Ubik (talking, self-aware doors, anyone?).
Having explained his vision of ubicomp, Greenfield argues that all of the components needed for a seamless experience (or, preferably, a seamful experience “with beautiful seams” for me to customise) already exist. He focuses on ultra-wideband as having the potential to provide near universal connectivity and RFID for identification. The last section of the book is particularly compelling, as it attempts to address the need for standards and concerns over privacy and so on – and his enthusiasm for Hong Kong’s Octopus card system is nearly enough to make me try Oyster, after all my wrangling and concern about it. I’m intrigued by his idea that we as developers and users can force the emergence of standards in the same way that web standards emerged and browsers were forced to support the same HTML functions during the 1990s. We’ll see what happens.
I have to say that it’s a great, great book. It is written as a series of 81 “theses” (chapters) of between 1 and 4 pages, so it is really easy to consume, and much like Ted’s book on blogging, I was able to spin through it a few chapters at a time in the evenings. The style is also very accessible, and Greenfield builds each argument very persuasively.
One surprise is that the book never mentioned technologies like motes, but perhaps that’s a little too recent. The future looks both exciting, and still somewhat frightening.