Week 5 Assignment

There is no disputing the fact that given the choice of only three items to carry, we would naturally go for the wallet, keys and smartphone. As suggested, it is who we are as humans and shows what matters most to us. But often times we carry much more than that we need just in case. This in the local context would be called, ‘kiasu’ and ’kiasi’. It is the fear of losing out or missing out and the fear of death…so basically to avoid a situation where one is unprepared or at risk we carry more than we need. This goes back to the point that factors such as security and peace of mind are what determines what we carry with us. At the same time, it reminds me of hoarders who feed their anxiety by keeping things around themselves.

I guess it seems strange that the range of distribution for the locals is larger than say in other countries like China, Spain or Brazil. But, it reflects the situation here in Singapore where theft is low vs other countries where it is high. While there is a tendency to keep things close or hidden to avoid theft, there is also a desire to show off what we have. This makes wonder if it will be a barrier to the concept of super-distribution in future as mentioned towards the end of the chapter, in a world of consumerism and where ownership is still very much a sign of status. With regards to having centres of gravity we usually place things where we can conveniently reach them and a point of reflection where we pause to run a checklist of thing which we need to carry in case we forget something, I think we can all relate to. For example, some people somehow however messy they are seem to know where everything is and for many people before leaving the house they usually check to make sure we brought everything we need to. Still we are human and we forget things but technology has helped in ways such as locating things for us, giving us reminders and the access to data in the palm of our hands.

Digitalisation and the cloud may seem to be the magic bullet to solve our problems of needing to have things within reach and yet secured far away, but in fact while it solves some problems it comes with its own set of problem such as a faulty hard drives, hacked servers or unpaid cloud storage. Personally, I have my data stored on two separate hard drives but I still live in anxiety that my hard drive will fail before I can transfer it to a new hard drive. Recently, many important services such as banking, transportation and communication have gone digital which while supposedly makes thing easier and more efficient it has its own risks. For example, the SGX server was down in June this year due to a disk failure, the MRT trains are experiencing problems due to software glitches and outages of internet and cell phone coverage have been an occasional problems due to system failures.

The traceability of things is an interesting issue because as the writer suggests it changes what it means to own something in that the consequences of losing something is reduced and retrieval is easy. While the writer suggests that traceability may lead to the misuse of tracking technology as a means of buying and selling rights, I see it more as a way in which our fears of losing something can be alleviated. The use of a location based mobile data such as GPS and automated systems such predictive shipping allow us to be less conscious about things and rely on technology to do remembering, planning and even shopping for us. While I understand that there are concerns that people might become desensitised, I think that actually the technology is good, but people need to use it in the right way. I mean it’s just like how social media is useful for connecting with people socially but it is no substitute for face to face meetings. In fact, these technologies allow us to be less distracted from the busyness of life and more focused on the important tasks. The secret of many successful people is that they limit their time spent on making decisions such what they eat or wear by limiting their options, so they have more time for more important things.

Finally, it seems that the way of the future is to own less things and have access to more things in what is termed here as super-distribution. Personally, I am very much attracted to the idea of this because we are like prisoners to the things we own and technology and such a concept is so liberating. But much more than that it allows society to be more efficient, safer and less materialistic. My only issue with this is if society will be ready to accept such a shift away from the entrenched ideas of ownership and consumerism.

Q1 Can we really move to a world where our things are shared rather than owned, with ownership so closely linked to status?

Q2 To what extend can digitalisation remove the burden of needing everything within range with issues such as privacy and the threat of hacking?


Ubiquitous technology is the growing trend towards embedding microprocessors in everyday objects so they can communicate information. The word ubiquitous means “existing everywhere.”

Ubiquitous City Korea


Author: Timothy Chan

Product Designer and Artist

One thought on “Week 5 Assignment”

  1. The Living Tomorrow video is really interesting because despite having all this control over personalising the kitchen and it functions, it still doesn’t appear very ‘homely’- mostly just from the white plastic decor. The video was posted in 2010 and claims this will be a real concept in 5 years, much like a lot of the futuristic home designs we see, it still feels very far off! But some cool ideas, I like the smart mirror! Makes good use of time.

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