Beki Grinter

Pervasive Computing

In computer science, discipline, research on September 29, 2011 at 8:45 am

At the recent panel on Ubiquitous Computing someone asked why we can’t decide on the name for the field, citing the Pervasive and the Ubiquitous names (both of which have conference series devoted to them). I read an article about how pervasive Facebook was, the other day, in the sense that it was integrated into a variety of other websites, adopted by 800 million people, referred to in discourse and the media (the latest UI overhaul made the NBC Nightly news on Sept 22nd, yes, really…).

The idea that Facebook is pervasive computing really altered my perception of Pervasive Computing.

And I was struck by the idea that Facebook is Pervasive Computing, and in so saying that how it altered my perception of Pervasive Computing. It made me wonder whether Pervasive or Ubiquitous Computing was the right organizing principle. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t important research topics that are found in what occurs in Pervasive Computing, but whether it was the right constellation of activities and people. For example, isn’t Cloud Computing about pervasiveness? What about Networking (the infrastructure of pervasiveness)? Could you even argue that Computer Science as an entire discipline is actually an agenda of pervasive computing. If you could, it becomes rather a broad label, perhaps too broad (excluding very little and under-expressing what is really going on there).

It’s just another question to ask (about both pervasive and ubiquitous computing). Another might be to question whether pervasiveness or ubiquity is a desirable outcome?


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