My field is Ubiquity – helping people and communities to enable themselves with effective and universally available knowledge, collaboration and online presence.
Ubiquity is a broad field, and one that tends to headline on the functionality and geek-chic of the endpoint devices and the ever-expanding notion of “invisible” technologies – from PDAs and mobile phones, through wearable computers and so on, to smart buildings and intelligent shoelaces.
I consider that holy grail of ‘invisible’ technology to be slightly spurious, finding the concept of ‘casual’ technology to be rather more useful. Here, people are able to extend the utility of the tools they already have available and are comfortable with using, rather than having to continually adopt new technologies and their infrastructures. My focus however is less on the endpoint technologies than on the knowledge architectures, models and processes which give people a reason to use the their technological tools, new or old, to seamlessly integrate their physical and virtual existences. The enabler for this is access to knowledge and association that is timely, contextualised, personalised and relevant to who they are, where they are and what they’re doing.
I’m the architect of a variety of more and less complex collaboration and content delivery systems and applications and regard the whole concept of individual and group empowerment for knowing, for interaction an collaboration as key to the emergence of a truly enabled society – I can bore for England on the subject.
I also work in some rather remote corners of the world. Which is to say that they’re remote only to us “Western” technorati – the people who live there find them usefully local. The remoteness is simply that of external perception, local infrastructure and access to the tools that access, create and present the connecting knowledge that breaks the barriers of medium, geography and culture. This is the true digital divide, where the affluent connected find it easier and cheaper to become more affluent and connected and, in being connected, lose contact with those societies that don’t form part of the infosphere and thereby tend to fall off the edge of our perceptual world. And so it goes. But what if people had that casual access to communication, presentation and collaborative knowledge? What if their voices, achievements, needs and aspirations could be heard, directly and immediately, across the world?