Book Review: Everyware by Adam Greenfield
Adam Greenfield is a writer, NYC-based consultant, and professor at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunication Program. He’s also the guy who coined the term “moblogging” for blogging from your cellphone. He’s got a knack for inventing terms because “everyware” is such a simpler name than unicomp or “ubiquitous computing” that is used more often. This book is about the future, when software will be everywhere in our consumer electronic devices. It also touches on the other side of continuously connected devices and the social networking phenomenon.
The book is set up as a series of short essays (1-3 pages) on different aspects of the emerging future of consumer electronics. I’m a cynic when it comes to the subject — just look at the Yahoo Answers forum for iPods to see the problems real people have with what is arguably one of the best designed devices of modern times — and I found myself violently disagreeing with Greenfield within the first few pages of the book. But that was only because he begins with the promise of everyware before he delves into the harsh reality.
His conclusion is one we can all take to heart: technology doesn’t seem to improve the fundamental things that bring us joy in life. From start to finish he covers what ubicomp could be, to what it will likely be and all of the design issues in between. While I didn’t find myself learning very many new things, the book did a great job of stimulating thought. Everyware won’t give you any answers, but it will lead you to many questions which might be a better gift in the long run.
Footnote: I have to agree with the author that the printing company did a bad job of presenting everywhere. The book is missing a bibliography (that Adam Greenfield has since added to the online website), the cover art is too subtle to express what the book is about and the chosen font seems more appropriate to emails from my mom than a printed book.
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