Notes on Media


Just another weblog. Lasse Bo Timmermann.

Calm Technology

Ubiquitous Computing is a concept firstly formulated by Mark Weise in 1991. Afterwards is has been used in various contexts and under various names. Pervasive computing, the Internet of things and ambient intelligence are only some of them. Whether the high expections formulated by Weiser and others can ever be reached or if the goals are at all desirable is a question still discussed. Dealing with Weiser and his work itensively during my Bachelor program I have been reminded of one of his ideas in a quite remarkable way. On TV I stumbled upon an ad of the new HTC campaign, which comes under the slogan “quietly brilliant”. As a description of mobile communication devices the slogan shows a striking closeness to Weiser’s notion of calm technology that appears in a paper from 1999. There he describes how technology fades to the background and adapts to the context in order to remain calm and disappear from the focus of attention. The ad itself then nicely plays with the ubiquity of phones in daily live. While the phones sold by HTC are arguably far from Weiser’s vision, the example still indicates a nice way to see the relevance of writings that are almost 20 years old.


Filed under: Future, Media, Nostalgia, Technology, Ubiquitous Computing

The Internet as the New Green?

In November I already wrote of the possibility to see movements, dealing critically with technology, taking a development similar to the idea of the green in the 1980s. Recently I found a news item quite interesting with respect to this connection. The screenshot above is taken from Spiegel Online, which arguably is the largest online news portal in Germany. It shows people taking part in the largest protest against nuclear power for more than 20 years. What I think is interesting about the article is the connection between the anti-nuclear movement and movements concerned with the Internet. The headline somehow strangely connects the “leakage” of data, dealing with the selection of final storage sites for nuclear waste, with the protest against nuclear power plants. It roughly reads “Confidental Gorleben-Files freely available on the Internet” next to the photograph of two protesters. Whilst the protest and the leakage of confidental files are only loosely connected, the article positions the Internet as some kind of protest space and puts two distinct movements in the same corner. Although the composition of the news item might just be a coincidence I think that it is quite telling regarding the larger discourse of Internet politics and its potential to become the green of the 2010s.

Filed under: Activism, Culture, Media, Politics