Reframing space for ubiquitous computing: a study of a national park

Marmo, C 2013, Reframing space for ubiquitous computing: a study of a national park, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Reframing space for ubiquitous computing: a study of a national park
Author(s) Marmo, C
Year 2013
Abstract Since the late-1980’s, researchers have been working on a “post-desktop” agenda for human-computer interaction known as ubiquitous computing. Visions for ubiquitous computing have been based around notions of embeddedness and invisibility: where mobile, networked and context-aware technologies are incorporated into the environments and objects of our everyday lives, and where the infrastructures required to operate them remain largely invisible. As this vision becomes partially realised, the focus of ubiquitous computing research has begun to shift towards considering the broader social and cultural aspects and implications of these developments. In addition to conceiving of their technologies as embedded and embeddable within built environments and objects, researchers are therefore beginning to recognise that they are equally embedded within social and cultural practices, interactions and productions. Particularly, as technologies find themselves in diverse environmental and social contexts, researchers are being asked to critically assess the role and potential their technologies have in both defining and shaping the spaces of our everyday lives, and the ways in which we understand them.

This research provides one such critical account of ubiquitous computing, approached through the frame (and reframing) of space. Whereas human-computer interaction has long sought to learn from and mimic physical interactions with the world, where spatial metaphors and conventions have been exploited in the design and implementation of interactive systems, critical accounts of the ways in which technologies reside in and help create spaces remain relatively under explored. As such, this research examines the relationship between ubiquitous technologies, the spaces of our everyday lives and the understandings we have of them. It does so through a cross-disciplinary engagement with cultural geography and the ethnographic practices of sociology and anthropology. It reframes the notion of space inherent in ubiquitous technologies away from one that equates it to a Cartesian representation of the world, or a source of metaphors, towards one that positions it as a social and cultural production. Building on this foundation, two multi-sited ethnographic studies with a state government organisation, Parks Victoria, are presented that demonstrate various productions of space in practice.

Based on analysis of these studies, a series of design inspirations are presented that reframe space as emergent and seasonal processes. Drawing on these design inspirations, two design concepts are presented that are envisioned for use within Parks Victoria: Habitat, a location-based platform for tacit knowledge, and Wayfarer, a visualisation and narrative tool for situated understandings. A reflection on these related pieces of research will then serve to highlight new, practical directions for further work in ubiquitous computing that incorporates perspectives from the social sciences, and moves beyond the typical divides between ‘work’ and ‘non-work’, ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ contexts.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences
Keyword(s) Cultural Geography
Ubiquitous Computing
Human-computer Interaction
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Created: Thu, 01 Aug 2013, 16:00:49 EST by Brett Fenton
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