Ubiquitous computing naming issue
There's an interesting discussion of the term "ubiquitous computing"by Mike Kuniavsky at Orange Cone. Mike basically explains the ambiguity of terms and deconstruct the very notion of ubicomp:
""Lately, I've been thinking about why "ubiquitous computing" has such problems as a name. When I talk about it, people either dismiss it as a far-future pipe-dream, or an Orwellian vision of panoptic control and dominance. I don't see it as either. I've never seen it as an end point, but as the name of a thing to examine and participate (...) Why don't others see it the same? I think it's because the term is fundamentally different because it has an implied infinity in it. Specifically, the word "ubiquitous" implies an end state, something to strive for, something that's the implicit goal of the whole project. That's of course not how most people in the industry look at it, but that's how outsiders see it (...) As a side effect, the infinity in the term means that it simultaneously describes a state that practitioners cannot possibly attain ("ubiquitous" is like "omniscient"--it's an absolute that is impossible to achieve) and an utopia that others can easily dismiss."
The problem is then that "Anything that purports to be a ubiquitous computing project can never be ubiquitous enough"! Then, what shall be done? As Mike points out, other terms such as "artificial intelligence" also had the same issues.
"Do we need to rename "ubicomp" something like "embedded computing product design," something that promises less so that it can deliver more? Maybe. I still like the implicit promise in the term and its historical roots, but I recognize that as long as it has an infinity in part of its term, there will always be misunderstandings"
Why do I blog this? preparing my Lift talk about failures I am interested in the difference between the imagined futures (endpoints such as ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence or flying cars) and the reality as it is experienced by people (users?). Mike Kuniavsky makes interesting points about this issue here by looking at the how naming research domains/trends can be misleading.