Suppose a world really occurs where ubiquitous computing is as common as electricity and radio are today. What would that look and feel like and how would we describe it? Bruce Sterling has been working on a science fiction novel with exactly this topic, and has some thoughts to share on all things physical, fabbable, ambient, findable, and pervasive.
Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, and critic, was born in 1954. Best known for his eight science fiction novels, he also writes short stories, book reviews, design criticism, opinion columns, and introductions for books ranging from Ernst Juenger to Jules Verne. His nonfiction works include THE HACKER CRACKDOWN: LAW AND DISORDER ON THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER (1992) and TOMORROW NOW: ENVISIONING THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS (2003). He is a contributing editor of WIRED magazine.
He also writes a weblog, and runs a website and Internet mailing list on the topic of environmental activism and postindustrial design. In 2005, he was the "Visionary in Residence" at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
He has appeared in ABC's Nightline, BBC's The Late Show, CBC's Morningside, on MTV and TechTV, and in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fortune, Nature, I.D., Metropolis, Technology Review, Der Spiegel, La Repubblica, and many other venues.
Around 350 BCE, Aristotle set down in the Poetics an understanding of narrative forms, based upon notions of the nature and intricate relations of various elements of structure and causation. Drama relied upon performance to represent action. Interactive forms and simulation inherits much of dramatic structure, but authorship is more explicitly shared among designers, engineers, and interactors. I and others have proposed extensions of the fundamental elements of Aristotle's Poetics to understand these new forms. But ubiquitous computing is a horse of a different color. Ubicomp's new blends of sensors, networks, computation, and space create potential for novel interactive forms. When we embed what Rob Tow calls "perception-representation-action loops" in objects and spaces, we enter a realm that I call designed animism. What new forms of narrative and experience may emerge from such systems? How do we understand them, in terms of structure, cauality, narrative, and experience? What are the poetics of this newly animistic world? And, does it have a soul?
Brenda Laurel is a designer, researcher, teacher, and writer. She has been a pioneer and entrepreneur in interactive media, human-computer interaction, and design research. Her PhD dissertation was the first to propose a comprehensive architecture for computer-based interactive fantasy and fiction. In 1989 she co-founded Telepresence Research, a company focused on virtual reality and remote presence. In 1992 she was among the founding members of the research staff at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California, where her work on gender and technology led her to co-found Purple Moon, a spin-out company developing computer games for girls, later acquired by Mattel.
She holds an MFA and PhD in theatre from the Ohio State University. She has worked as a designer, producer, and researcher for companies including Atari, Activision, and Apple, From 2002 to 2006, she was Chair of the graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 2005 and 2006 she served concurrently as a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Labs in Menlo Park, California. She has recently been appointed Chair of the Graduate Design Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her books include Computers as Theatre and Utopian Entrepreneur.