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An article on pervasive media by Tom Melamad of Calvium
If you think of your computer what do you think of? You’re probably thinking of a laptop or a desktop, either way there will be a screen, a keyboard and probably a mouse. Now picture yourself using the internet on your computer. You’re probably at work, home or on the train
sitting down in front of that screen using the keyboard and mouse. The internet and all its rich content, social interaction and media are all
stuck behind that screen and no matter where you are or what you are doing the internet looks the same. Even if you are using the internet on a phone it’s still the same internet only smaller, it does not know what you are doing, where you are or what you want. But this is starting
With advancements in computing and technology we now have both more ways to interact with computers and more ways for them to interact with the world around us. For example mobile devices and wireless networks mean that you are now always connected to the internet. What is more your phone and the operators probably already know where you are. The world is slowly being populated with sensors that measure everything from traffic levels, to how many people are in a meeting room and when to turn the lights off. Now add in all the electronic buttons, switches and swipe cards in the world and motion sensors in mobile devices. All these are ways of interacting with computers and computer systems without a keyboard or mouse in sight. You also have a screen in your pocket; if you have a separate media player then you’ve got two. But who says that content needs a screen anyway? What about a personal radio station that knows where you are and what you are doing and will interleave content with that of your friends close by. All this raises serious privacy and security concerns that need to be addressed from day one, otherwise consumers will reject these technologies before they get a chance to demonstrate their potential.
If the computer stops being the start and end of people’s interaction with the internet then rich new interactions can emerge. These interactions are not about sitting down at a screen, now the real world is your website and you the user are the mouse. What now would you click on and what would you want back? This new way of interacting with content is starting to happen already and early results show that it’s an incredibly powerful way for users to engage with rich media and the real world at the same time. Projects like mscape (www.mscapers.com) let ordinary people build tours, games and all kinds of experiences where, as the user moves through the physical world, they are triggering things on their phone from a virtual world overlay, without infringing on the users privacy or security.
So what does this mean for the content and interactions that people create? If content is now freed from the PC and out in the real world then it becomes much harder to fully control a user’s experience. Your content is never going to be as Hi-Def or immersive as the real world, so don’t try, instead work with the users real environment and context. The secret to this new medium is not to try to cut people off from the world they are in or replace it but just to add enough to change the world for that user. They’re still on 8:15AM train to Paddington as always but now they are also a spy escaping from the KGB, being fed secrets through their phone and dodging other spies on the platform! Welcome to world 3.0.