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Monday, July 04, 2005

Two More from CHI 2005

I'm working on technology that will go into people's homes, so I've been catching up on my reading in pervasive technologies and ubiquitous computing.

Artful Systems in the Home
Alex S. Taylor, Microsoft Research (UK), Laurel Swan, Brunel University (UK)

I was reading "Artful Systems in the Home" and found myself nodding as I read it. What the authors say makes sense. Much current research seems to be about finding uses for cool technology, instead of finding cool uses for technology, and it was refreshing to see the needs of families taken as primary when discussing technology for the home.

But the paper left me with a problem. As someone actually working on these sorts of systems, I can sympathise with the paper's aims, but it offers me very little I can use.

It's an observation I wouldn't have made if I hadn't been trying to build a system for the home, and it pains me to make it. I like the idea of thinking through consequences, of studying how to actually help people with technology instead of helping technology by forcing it onto people.

Ultimately, though, I have to build something, and the feedback of others trying to make real systems is more useful than ethnographic musings.

It was a shock to realize that I was getting more practical use out of some very silly pure-geeky-technology papers than I was out of a paper based on the sort of approach I had come to respect.

That was a bit of a downer, so here's something a little more fun. Excessive commentary would be inappropriate, just read it, it's short. And don't miss the bibliography, entry [9] pretty much says it all:

Edible Bits: Seamless Interfaces between People, Data and Food
Dan Maynes-Aminzade, Stanford University, USA


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