Of course the twitching always gets more intense at the end of the evening

Posted on December 2, 2007


IFTF recently posted Visualizing Future Stories: A Day in the Life of a Designer, 2030:

Tom Klinkowstein and Irene Pereyra‘s exhibit of their wall-sized diagram called “A Day in the Life of a Networked Designer’s Smart Things or A Day in a Designer’s Networked Smart Things, 2030”

http://www.irenepereyra.com/blogger/smartthings.pdf (link to pdf)

This is a stunning piece of work examining the potential for smart embedded objects, encapsulated as a day-in-the-life of a fictional 2030 designer. After a night in which her biological systems are monitored, she is woken by her smart things:

Getting ready for a busy day. My smart things work together to facilitate easiest / fastest / most efficient / sustainable / healthiest morning, based on understanding of preferences and data stream from thousands of my previous mornings and from hundreds of thousands of sensors in my home, office, vehicles, and the locations I will travel to today.

I’m struggling though with a few things though. Mainly it is the frenetic pace this 2030 woman is living at. She has had digital contact with hundreds of people by noon, taught a class (notice that most of the 200 attendees are videoconferencing), flown to Honduras and had a major meeting before flying home again. The day carries on becoming more and more frenzied, even half an hour with her boyfriend (the father of her child is at a conference in Mumbai) is constantly interrupted by TWITCH-MAIL:

Of course the twitching always gets more intense at the end of the evening! At work we’re simul-conferencing with Jamestown. 500 millisec ago.

before she is allowed to sleep (carefully managed by biologically smart objects of course), although her parallel self carries attending two more conferences whilst also shopping for a child’s birthday (spending more than 15 minutes a day with her own child might be good too).

So, despite her day being designed to “maximise sustainability” and smart objects calculating micro-carbon credits (and someone gets an award for turning nuclear waste into wool), a basic tenet of sustainability is missing: Less is more.

I thank Tom and Irene for this work: I hope those people working in pervasive computing take the time to read this poster. There is a workshop coming up that examines the relationships between pervasive computing and sustainability. I would applaud their goal to

start re-considering the impact of pervasive technology from an ecological perspective

To do this they look beyond the cool ideas and future gazing and think of some basic ideas of a better world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ubiquity: I’ve worked and published in pervasive computing. This poster though has brought home to me that sustainability in this area is more than energy ratings of the smart objects.