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I have to admit; the act of publishing my own reflections on this blog is a lot stranger and more challenging than I first thought. When trying to design a concept for the future elderly, this is helpful. They will live with their mindset and values of today in a ubiquitous computing world, given the option of being “always on” through a vast variety of products and services, all wirelessly connected. And if even for me this is somewhat of a strange notion, what will it be like for people older than me? It could become a nightmare scenario, or they could be the first generation to actually set a standard for this type of everyday, “Everyware” , life, with a traditional set of values I think are to be well respected. I have been talking to people of my chosen user group, and gotten some indication as to what they think their future as retired might be, and while most are optimistic and open as to what kind of activities and lifestyle they will enjoy, no one so far has put the finger on the technological development taking place, and how they think this will influence their lives. This tells me that they could be in for a great deal of surprises, given that today, we might hear of some new development and within a few days it might be here. When visionaries like Adam Greenfield talks about ubiquitous computing, he puts it into a timeframe of a few years. And this I thought of when starting this project; the thing I`m designing could be realistic way before I think it is.
Today my grandmother got her first email account, joining in her own small way an online life I take for granted by now, and would not know what to do without. For her it was a nice experience getting her first email from me with a link to a Youtube video about her hometown; a simple slideshow of its history, some very nice “danceband” music on top, and of course flagging the patriotism of the local football team. It will be exciting to see how she will continue to use this new window to the world, and although she has already indicated many difficulties with the pc and browser interface, she is very openminded and welcomes its many possibilities.
For a user like my grandmother, the many ethical aspects of being online aren`t as imposing as much as we will think for a ubiquitous computing (UC) scenario. She is in complete control of when she`s online, and what she will use of online services. In the future in which I imagine my design concept, we will be surrounded by interconnected products and services, and the boundary of being ON/OFF line will be a lot more evasive. Designing a concept for the future use of UC, the most important thing for me would be exactly this; we have to be able to unplug, and to be in control of, or at least aware of how we interact with this type of service.