Assignment 5

Part 1 Reading

Carrying behavior is about knowing where our belongings are, being able to access them at just the right time, and feeling secure in their safekeeping. This point makes me recall of the time era before smartphones and social media swept the world, where people could “survive” without having their mobile phones with them. Comparing this to people today, leaving our homes without our smart phones can be almost seen as an “impossible feat”. We can see how, as technology brings us convenience, it certainly comes with heavy, and rather “unhealthy” reliance on them too. Increasingly, we’re learning how to apply the ways we carry tangible objects toward our intangible, digitally based possessions.

Next in point, I have learnt the interesting term, range of distribution, which refers to the distance that people are willing to let physical objects stray when they’re out and about. We can see how the criteria (the perceived risk of danger, the actual risk of danger, and the perceived and actual need to keep items close at home for convenience), reveal more about the security or level of crime rate in a specific context. In this case, Chipchase’s sharing about people’s paranoia behavior on their possessions in Shanghai, is indeed a good example to show us about the environment and culture of a context.

Another term worth to take note, center of gravity, that refers to where we aim to set an object down and the first place we look to retrieve it. I think this is an example of mental mapping or visual object memory in human’s brain, where we have subconscious memory of the exact locations of where our personal belongings are kept. However, of course, with the help of technology to store such details and information, our daily lives are undeniably made more convenient. When things become digital, the range of distribution equation changes. Those yo-yo strings can be much longer, in terms of physical distance, time distance and distance from consciousness.

It is interesting to note how cultural context can have different meaning and interpretations of ownership or carrying behaviors. In countries like Afghan, where the perceived rick of theft is so high that tangibility is believed to be the only form of security – if you can’t see it, you don’t own it. This is compared to developed countries where people would minimize the number of tangible objects to carry around due to inconvenience. The perceptions of “ownership” in developed and undeveloped countries clearly differ.

This brings me to the next point, if our goal to lighten consumers’ loads and help them be more efficient with what they carry, we could try to either reduce the risk of losing things, reduce the cost of recovering or replacing those things, and/or make it easier to live without carrying those things around. One of the simplest ways to accomplish all three is to allow people to use more while owning less. e.g. Zipcar. As more of what we carry becomes digitalized and networkable, and as we develop identification systems to allow us secure access and payment to the network, we will see radically different ways to interacting with and using goods. I think this is a definitely more efficient, convenient way of having our “belongings” with us, everywhere and anywhere we go. In a sense, gone is the idea of having our very own “personal” belongings, as it seems to function and operate on a “public goods” basis. Goods can be scattered around a city in areas where they’re likely to be accessed; when someone picks up an object to use it, the object identifies its user biometrically and automatically bills for the duration of access. I think that this system is not only smart and highly efficient, as people do not have to worry about risk of theft; it is a big step in establishing an almost “virtual” world through technology.

However, digital evolution is certainly not without perils. E.g. Chipchase’s crossing into Libya, lost all cell connectivity, which meant losing their entire support structure – maps, email, phone, web access. Losing those lifelines left them feeling naked, more exposed to the dangers, but it also forced them to heighten their awareness of where they were at every moment, where they had come from, and how to get back there. Hence, from this example, I think that striking a balance between technology and nature is the ultimate key to “survival” in the future ahead.

Q1: In the smartphone era today, we have clearly witnessed how human face-to-face has been greatly reduced e.g. we see how people in the train today are engrossed with their smartphones, there is not much human interaction at all. With the proliferation of ubiquitous technology in the near future, where people could access anything everywhere without the need for human interaction, will this be a social concern?

Q2: With the convenience of smartphones today, people can carry many things with them, wherever they go e.g. carrying edictionary in their smartphones instead of a heavy dictionary book. However, there are some things that are still preferred to be done in the old, “traditional” ways e.g. how many people today still prefer reading books in the conventional way (hardcopy) than on their smartphones of kindle. Hence, will technology be able to truly replace some of this experience that we enjoy in the old, conventional ways?

Part 2: Example of ubiquitous technology

Example 1: Future with Samsung

Example 2: OmniTouch

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