NordForsk (External organisation)

Activity: Membership typesMembership in research network

Ulrik Ekman - Member

The Culture of Ubiquitous Information

The purpose of *The Culture of Ubiquitous Information* is to organize a research network of a size and with the interdisciplinary
competence to address a problem not yet solved in the Nordic countries: the articulation of a conceptual apparatus in cultural theory
and technology studies which affords an analysis and evaluation of ubiquitous computing as a contemporary development
increasingly making itself felt socio-culturally. The network meets this challenge by integrating researchers from cultural studies,
science and technology studies, computer science, interaction design, media studies, art history and digital aesthetics. In seminar
and conference activities, it pursues an interdisciplinary discourse for these research fields and their research training, first by
identifying a set of significant questions pending, then by having collaborate on answering these a larger group of researchers and
doctoral students than permitted by the current geographical and institutional dispersal. In its publication of special journal issues
and an anthology, the network will deploy the interdisciplinary resources necessary for a critical, technically well-informed study of
the socio-cultural implications of ubiquity today.
The move since the 1990s towards omnipresent embedding of information- and communication technology (ICT) and new media
has far-reaching technical and socio-cultural implications, witness the recent research publications concerning pervasive computing
and governmental reports (*Teknologisk Fremsyn: Pervasive Computing. Hovedrapport*. Copenhagen: Ministry of Science,
Technology, and Innovation, 2003). This concerns changes in innovative product development and branding, new ethico political
issues of distinguishing the public and the private, and juridical problems as regards information rights, surveillance, and security. At
stake are quite essential changes of culture, sociality, and experience which increasingly have our forms of life exist in concrete
interplay with computer-generated dimensions of time and space.
In earlier research, in the Nordic countries and abroad, the emerging traits of this development were typically handled via a formal,
abstract idea of IT and a concept of virtuality. Today we are beyond a wider set of transformations, underexposed in existing
research and research training, which no longer concern distinct forms of computing or a tendency towards transcendental
abstraction (VR). Rather, this concerns a broad distribution, mobility, and dynamic networking of ICT with a concrete presence
everywhere, so that the reach and speed of the interplay between dataspaces, socio cultural and individual activities challenge our
notions of reality with a different gravity. When the events of daily life, leisure, art, work, and the public sphere take place quite as
much in dataspaces as in physical spaces, the question arises as to how their mediatory separations and relations are to be experienced, perceived, understood, and evaluated.
We see new types of technics, mediatory distribution, and ad hoc integration of units in networks becoming sufficiently extensive
and complex to generate ubiquity effects and so influence our notions of reality. Along with the increase in distribution and mobility,
this is not least due to the implementation of new sensor networks and actuators displaying an intelligent operational autonomy.
Historically, this bespeaks a notable physical turn: today one encounters a complementarity of culture and technics in our concrete
life form. This development can be sketched in 3 phases of actual expansion: from virtuality through telepresence to the mixed
realities of ubiquity.
The co-implication of culture and embedded technics raises a comprehensive set of questions as regards its technical modes and
the ramifications of cultural pervasiveness. It concerns the implications for: (i) notions of reality, realism, and representation; (ii)
articulation of environmental, anthropological, cultural, and sociological positions in a technically pervaded life world; (iii)
development of a recognizable paradigm for interaction design in media and communicational productions, including sensor
networks and intelligent agents; (iv) concepts of the lived experience of the art and culture of ubiquity, qua installations delimiting
our psychic and perceptual capacities; (v) epistemological and critical positions once knowledge gathering and production involve
ubiquitous databases, applications, and prostheses that sense and act autonomously.
In this context, the research network focuses its activities sharply by critically examining four actual developments that have made
their socio-cultural significance very evident:
1. Ubiquitous digitalization of urban life and auditory culture
2. Mobile communication and user driven innovation
3. Interactive and context aware media art in mixed realities
4. Ethics and politics of embedded techne and surveillance culture
Navn: Organizer

Body type: Nordic research network
1 Oct 200930 Sep 2012

External organisation (International organisation)


ID: 17114830