The Ubiquitous Computing and network society

Allikas: KakuWiki
Redaktsioon seisuga 7. märts 2007, kell 20:13 kasutajalt Kakk (arutelu | kaastöö)
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Ubiquitous computing?

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."

So the ubicomp (to use the shorter term) is the transparent layer of information technology that will increasingly surround us in the future. The problem is - is the ubicomp alone sufficient?

Social hackerism

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. Therefore, even the best of the scenarios would probably have been insufficient in achieving network society - due to lacking the social dimension.

Have a cake and eat it too?

Oone of the central questions asked by various thinkers in recent years is: is an information society incompatible with the welfare state, or can those two exist side by side? While Estonian visionaries tend to stress competitive economy of information age, there are other views as well.

Pekka Himanen describes the four possible scenarios for Finland in his Challenges of the Global Information Society of 2004. As reviewed in previous lecture, the Silicon Valley, Singapore and Old Europe scenarios each have their shortcomings. As a result, Himanen proposes the fourth way, based on the ten values which can bring along the network society while retaining the central traits of the earlier welfare state.

  1. Caring - equality and justice, fairness and universal inclusion as well as equal opportunities: the key ideas of the welfare state. Stressing caring would help prevent the negative consequences of overcompetitive scenarios.
  2. Confidence - Confidence is partly based on caring, being also a basis of the welfare state. Confidence

gives safety, makes fruitful communality possible and prevents an atmosphere of fear.

  1. Communality - yet another foundation of the welfare state, meaning being part of a larger community, living with others and doing things together.
  2. Encouragement - the main idea is "I do not want to take anything away from others; instead, I work to make it possible for everyone to have more."; includes positive spurring and stimulation. Another aspect here is the 'post-scarcity' notion also made by Yochai Benkler: resources are not scarce – there is plenty for everyone. The antithesis of communality and encouragement would be an overall atmosphere of envy.
  3. Freedom
  4. Creativity
  5. Courage
  6. Visionariness
  7. Balance
  8. Meaningfulness