The Ubiquitous Computing and network society
A quite good and simple explanation of the term is provided by Wikipedia: "Ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) integrates computation into the environment, rather than having computers which are distinct objects. Other terms for ubiquitous computing include pervasive computing, calm technology, things that think, everyware, and more recently, pervasive Internet. Promoters of this idea hope that embedding computation into the environment and everyday objects would enable people to interact with information-processing devices more naturally and casually than they currently do, and in ways that suit whatever location or context they find themselves in."
Pekka Himanen in his 2001 Hacker Ethic and subsequent The Information Society and the Welfare State with Manuel Castells has proposed the 'hacker model' as a base for network societies of the future. The old, fixed models may have worked well in the industrial societies of old, but the network society which has heavy emphasis on innovation will be better served by a model which combines intrinsic drive towards new things with free, informal processes as well as overall inclusiveness (the model which is well seen at free software development, allowing informal, network-based hacker communities successfully compete with large, established companies). Ubiquitous computing can be viewed as a crucial ingredient in social hackerism.
For comparison: the vision of Estonia 2010
Around 1995, a development programme called "Estonia 2010" was initiated in Estonia to predict and analyse future trends.
The four possible scenarios proposed were
- "Militaristic information oasis" - "little angry country" (like the one in Middle East) with good technological progress but little openness and overall freedom. "Military Estonia".
- "South Finland" - soft-spoken, well integrated into Europe (and decisively distanced from Russia), but with low innovation capacity. "Subcontractor Estonia" - perhaps the closest to current reality.
- "The Ferryman" - well-developed, but fully transit-based economy. Innovation and ICT are only to serve the main goal and thus of inferior importance. "Merchant Estonia", which is quite alike to the 'Singapore' scenario of Himanen seen in previous lecture.
- "Grand Slam" - the best realisation of both geographical location (transit) and innovative and educational potential. "Innovation/ICT Estonia".
While the last scenario, the Grand Slam was definitely seen as the most desirable, it did generally lack a central feature of Castell & Himanen's "hacker society", namely caring or social cohesiveness that characterises Himanen's Finnish ideal. Estonian Grand Slam was to be a society of brilliant and innovative businessmen rather than hackers.
- Himanen, P. Himanen, P. (2004) Challenges of the Global Information Society. report for the Committee for the Future in Parliament of Finland.
- Petri Martikainen and Martti Mäntylä (eds). Towards the Ubiquitous Network Society. Helsinki Institute for Information Technology. September 15th, 2006