Domestic complexity: home(s)

Reading Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing by Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell last week-end, I was interested by several things. Among others, as I was about to prepare a speech about robot interactions, the part concerning home and ubiquitous computing was of particular interest. Some excerpts I found important:

"That there are so many words, metaphors, and imaginings for home should serve to remind us that homes exist within a wide range of physical, infrastructure, and legislative contexts and that they are also embedded within highly varied systems of meaning. (...) Materially, homes are hugely varied and the challenges of designing for and into these many homes are immense. First, there are the practical considerations: size, density, scale, and history. (...) Second, homes are the sites of a range of social and cultural practices, dysfunctions, and aspirations, even within a single city. There are a myriad of patterns of occupation, floor plans, household size, and composition. (...) Third, few homes operate in a vacuum or complete isolation; they are part of a larger social, cultural, and sometimes physical institutions. (...) Lastly, and complicating the picture still further, the different kinds of metaphors and symbols of and for home mean that things we wrap around design or that we imagine design might implicate - ideas about security, trust, the future, and even the relationship between public and private - are all flexible. (...) this complexity seems at odds with the current, deceptively simple visions of the digital home. Not only is the home in these visions always singular, but it is nearly always unrealistically large, frequently freestanding, connected to the rest of the world only for the provisioning of services, and newly constructed - without legacy hardware, infrastructure or quirks. It is almost always occupied by a heterosexual nuclear family, which is remarkably accident-and-trouble-free and perfectly happy to perform daily tasks and rituals in series or parallel, entirely without incident. (...) these has been visions of domestic life that celebrated technology and its transformative power at the expense of home as a lived and living practice"

Why do I blog this? Some good material here about the problems of "smart homes" and the complexity of context.