2007 volume 34(3) pages 414 – 430

Cite as:
Dourish P, Bell G, 2007, "The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 34(3) 414 – 430

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The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space

Paul Dourish, Genevieve Bell

Received 18 February 2005; in revised form 11 January 2006; published online 9 March 2007

Abstract. Although the current developments in ubiquitous and pervasive computing are driven largely by technological opportunities, they have radical implications not just for technology design but also for the ways in which we experience and interact with computation. In particular, the move of computation ‘off the desktop’ and into the world, whether embedded in the environment around us or carried or worn on our bodies, suggests that computation is beginning to manifest itself in new ways as an aspect of the everyday environment. One particularly interesting issue in this transformation is the move from a concern with virtual spaces to a concern with physical ones. Basically, once computation moves off the desktop, computer science suddenly has to be concerned with where it might have gone. Whereas computer science and human – computer interaction have previously been concerned with disembodied cognition, they must now look more directly at embodied action and bodily encounters between people and technology. In this paper, we explore some of the implications of the development of ubiquitous computing for encounters with space. We look on space here as infrastructure—not just a technological infrastructure, but an infrastructure through which we experience the world. Drawing on studies of both the practical organization of space and the cultural organization of space, we begin to explore the ways in which ubiquitous computing may condition, and be conditioned by, the social organization of everyday space.

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