Network technology beyond boundaries and ownership?
Our focus lied on the possible improvement of public life through innovative use of technology. The city inhabitant was to be taken as an active “producer” equipped
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to display and share information in public space. Built environment served as territory for intensified research on media visualization, and therefore it became acknowledged in many new ways. As potential outcome, time-dependent collective spaces were to appear and to allow for new kinds of social gathering. Our research fields ranged between concepts of rezoning public space and providing a new palette of choice, the further development of interface and wearable electronic design and the redefinition of media surfaces.
Features of web 2.0 inform the concept of public space 2.0
- architecture of participation—a design that encourages user
- interaction and community contributions (T. O’Reilly, who coined the term Web 2.0)
- ‘collective intelligence’, ‘wisdom of crowds’ and ‘attention economy’ (e.g. google search considers what users collectively have valued in the past)
- social bookmarking (del.icio.us) allows user to ‘recommend’ things s/he values
- Reader comments on blogs allow ‘reaction’ of others ―negative feedback appreciated as much as positive.
- Folksonomy (tagging, social classification, social indexing) creates a stronger ‘identification’ of content.
Reference project by Ashok Sukumaran: “The recurrencies project is about bringing into broader ‘currency’ things that have stabilized, that circulate in closed loops,
or are otherwise smoothly rendered as commodities.” “This kind of arrangement cannot be understood as a simple negotiation between haves and have-nots. There are a number of other types of agents, including don’t-want-to-haves, will-takes, and will-find-other-uses-fors. Our intention was also to expand this field horizontally, to connect agents conceptually beyond the limits of ‘material’ transmission.” The concept of “currency” also appears in the video entitled Balance by Lauenstein brothers as an activating force for participation.
Image: Ways to encourage user to become “active”
Reference project by Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga: a shopping cart outfitted with technology that converts it into a mobile radio broadcast station. This one and many other mobile broadcast stations create a “socially approved” platform for one to share his/her opinion with others. The implied function and existence of the object encourages the user to produce content without feeling out of place and being regarded as strange.
« Image: Users as producer of content
To overcome the uncoordinated and diverging development of singular networking solutions, and to limit friction losses associated with this, this project conducted coordinated basic research and located principle methods and concepts for a new implementation of public space. From an engineering point of view, there are three main pillars which serve as basic principles for our investigations:
- decomposition of domain borders
- delocalization by means of motility
- communication by means of concurrency
In order to constitute a network, specific infrastructure is required. For IT networks, this infrastructure can be wiring, wireless access points and backbone connectivity including respective software and business intelligence. Network nodes connect to this infrastructure and thus become part of the network. In certain kinds of networks, all connected nodes even become part of the infrastructure, since the infrastructure is constituted by nodes. This applies for ad-hoc networks such as sensor networks, smart dust, Bluetooth or certain types of WLANs.
The first pillar of this project is the decomposition of domain borders. As shown in Fig. 1, an entity can be isolated and exist on its own, but it should be enabled to join or take part in the infrastructure of various network service providers. This basic principle is for instance used in modern cell phones that are able to choose between GSM, UMTS or WIFI
connectivity if available. While GSM and UMTS are communication standards designed for mobile voice communication, WIFI is a data transfer standard and was originally intended for wireless computer-to-computer communication and not for telephony. Today, it is fairly widespread and even voice communication providers provide the user with Voice-over-Internet.
The second underlying principle, delocalization by means of motility, refers to the ability of formerly location-dependent infrastructure to now accompany the user along his movements though space, be it for private or public purposes (see Fig. 2). This can e.g. be realized by mobile technologies and
mobile connectivity. Again, specific infrastructure is required. However, here the notion lies in the infrastructure being ubiquitous, while formerly it was restricted to a certain point in space that has been determined during design-time of the infrastructure. The guiding factors that once had inspired
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the design of the location-specific infrastructure could have changed considerably.
Today, users can carry their socio-technical environment including sound (CD, MP3), communication (up to some MBit/s) and computing power (mobile dual core processors, GBytes of mobile memory) with them to nearly every place they want. Communication by means of concurrency is a well-known concept that bases on the human need for social interchange. However, due to technological advance, social interchange moved away
from well-frequented public spaces, such as the butcher’s shop or the “Kaffeehaus”, to dim rooms with computers and instant coffee. The Internet has not only enabled information broadcast by web pages and the concept of “surfing”; it also serves as a breeding ground for communication services around which new types of social communities have emerged. Examples for this are RSS feeds, the usenet, chat rooms and applications such as ICQ, email or Skype. Independent of using face-to-face or remote communication for this social interchange, the concurrent presence in a common location, be it real or virtual, is required (see Fig. 3).