Readings' list

Dourish, P., Brewer, J., and Bell, G. 2005. Information as a cultural category. interactions 12, 4 (Jul. 2005), 31-33.

Summary/ Key Points

Ambient Intelligence is heir to two traditions within computer science: artificial intelligence and ubiquitous computing. As such, it inherits the ways in which those traditions postulate the nature of human behavior and its relationship to the world within which it arises.

Weiser's remark (1991) "there is more information in a walk in the woods than there is when we sit in front a computer" raises a question:

"Why should we think of a walk in the woods as an information exercise, and what happens when we do?"

In casting the embodied experience of physical world in term of information terms, Weiser is following the tradition of searching for mathematical models of everyday life.

  1. Computers were originally humans that were performing computations. Later computers were the electronic equivalents of humans.
  2. For cognitive science the mind could be understood in computational terms. Now the brain is biological computer. The rhetoric of information processing become the model by which human experience was to be understood.
  3. Ubiquitous computing sees the movement of computation away from traditional computer systems and into everyday world. The world becomes a site of computation and an object of information representation. We start to understand and model of the world in information terms.

This last part equates information with experience .


So, ambient intelligence, as a research program, arises within this broader context that sees information as an object that can be uncovered and processes, rather than as a reflection of social and cultural relations.

This view suggest some important research challenges for ambient intelligence. Recent shifts in how we think about technology and experience as embodied phenomena asks for a different reading of interaction beyond the "information approach". One suggestion is to use social science to investigate how people understand them setting into which technology is to be introduce, and which they populate.

If "information", "ambience", and "intelligence" are cultural categories, then how can the relationship between technology and social and cultural practic be re-imagined?



Cultural category: an element of a broad cultural understanding of reality.

Disclaimer: I wrote these summaries to help me remember the content and the main ideas of the paper. Since I am interested in certain aspects, I may leave out others.

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