In thinking about the pervasive nature of ubiquitous media, two particular areas piqued my interest within the course: the possibility of utopian/dystopian futures and the concept of immersion and what it might mean in today’s context.
We are experiencing a shift much like television did in its transition from the broadcast to the post-network era. In the case of ubiquitous media, we are now seeing the digital come out into the real world, instead of us having to “log-into” digital worlds.
A problem I have with ubiquitous media is that it almost assumes that everybody will have access. But unless ubiquitous media can solve the problem of the digital divide, a dichotomy of inclusion and exclusion will be created—in which case would something like the concept of “media buildings” be a solution in granting access to the disadvantaged?
It would seem that “enclosing” or immersing users is a lucrative endeavour for the private sector. But how are those with little money affected—or even those without access? And if we are able to live increasingly “cyborg existences” in unison with our devices, what happens to those who can’t join us? Ubiquitous media may be utopian for some, yet dystopian for others.
Where immersion is concerned, we are seeing technology increasingly dissipate into our environment—almost “naturalizing” its usage and presence. As such, “good” technology shouldn’t ever reveal itself and we should only really ever be able to notice that we were ever immersed once crucial aspects of our mediated environments are found missing or defective. Here, ubiquitous media seems to be about the lessening of friction. Which makes it possible for us to become inadvertent users of technology, where we won’t know when or where we’ve “opted-in”—where’s our agency?
Ubiquitous media is often “bolted” upon the framework of the everyday—in which case it becomes crucial to examine where we end and the “media” begins. Here, it is also crucial to examine the implications—looking at who gets access and also at how we are seemingly becoming embedded deeper and deeper within mediated environments.