The hundred-billion-dollar question: do the products and services we've been discussing truly constitute a system, a continuous fabric of computational awareness and response?
Someincluding, it must be said, some of the most knowledgeable, prominent, and respected voices in academic ubicompwould say that they clearly do not. Their viewpoint is that originators such as Mark Weiser never intended "ubiquitous" to mean anything but locally ubiquitous: present everywhere "in the woodwork" of a given, bounded place, not literally circumambient in the world. They might argue that it's obtuse, disingenuous, or technically naive to treat artifacts as diverse as a PayPass card, a SenseWear patch, a Sensacell module, a Miconic 10 elevator system, and a GAUDI display as either epiphenomena of a deeper cause or constituents of a coherent larger-scale system.
If I agreed with them, however, I wouldn't have bothered writing this book. All of these artifacts treat of nothing but the same ones and zeroes, and in principle there is no reason why they could not share information with each other. Indeed, in many cases there will beor will appear to bevery good reasons why the streams of data they produce should be merged with the greater flow. I would go so far as to say that if the capacity exists, it will be leveraged.
To object that a given artifact was not designed with such applications in mind is to miss the point entirely. By reconsidering them all as network resources, everyware brings these systems into a new relationship with each other that is decidedly more than the sum of their parts. In the chapters that follow, I will argue that, however discrete such network-capable systems may be at their design and inception, their interface with each other implies a significantly broader domain of actiona skein of numeric mediation that stretches from the contours of each individual human body outward to satellites in orbit.
I will argue, further, that since the technical capacity to fuse them already exists, we have to treat these various objects and services as instantiations of something largersomething that was already by 1990 slouching toward Palo Alto to be born; that it simply makes no sense to consider a biometric patch or a directional display in isolationnot when output from the one can furnish the other with input; and that if we're to make sense of the conjoined impact of these technologies, we have to attend to the effects they produce as a coordinated system of articulated parts.