Adam Greenfield, principle of the Studies and Observations design consultancy, is a user experience consultant and critical futurist. He is also co-founder of Boxes & Arrows, a web-based journal on interactive design and information architecture.
Greenfield has a simple objective in this book, parsed into a few parts. To define “everyware,” explain its feasibility (the necessary technology already exists) and inevitability (following late-capitalism’s requirement for accumulated production), and caution us about its implications. “Everyware” comprises the “powerful informatics underlying the apparent simplicity of the experience, but they never breach the surface of awareness: things Just Work” (1). The things in question include all these and more: “wearable computing, augmented reality, locative media, near-field communication, body-area networking” (13).
For all the promise of scare-tactics, and Greenfield does come through here, I think he went too on easy on ubicomp. I think this is because, in the end, he’s your classic fanboy. Ubicomp is marvelous, technologically sublime, and Greenfield’s not immune. So he admits, without worry, that his prediction centers around the First World, not giving a moment’s thought to the deepening chasm between it and the Fourth World (Castells, 1998). Likewise, he gives barely a paragraph’s notice to the certain social inequities at the local and regional levels. What of the buildings that disallow people of certain ethnicities and socioeconomic levels? And what of the border implications? There’s so much more dystopic potential here, but Greenfield doesn’t get at it. I’d call it a pity, but that’s the wrong response.