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Which clippings match 'Desktop Computer' keyword pg.1 of 1
03 JANUARY 2014

Interface functions: conceptually similar operationally different

"I am going to argue that 'media independence' does not just happen by itself. For a technique to work with various data types, programmers have to implement a different method for each data type. Thus, media–independent techniques are general concepts translated into algorithms, which can operate on particular data types. Let us look at some examples.

Consider the omnipresent cut and paste. The algorithm to select a word in a text document is different from the algorithm to select a curve in a vector drawing, or the algorithm to select a part of a continuous tone (i.e. raster) image. In other words, 'cut and paste' is a general concept that is implemented differently in different media software depending on which data type this software is designed to handle. (In Larry Tesler's original implementation of the universal commands concept done at PARC in 1974–5, it only worked for text editing.) Although cut, copy, paste, and a number of similar 'universal commands' are available in all contemporary GUI applications for desktop computers (but not necessarily in mobile phone apps), what they actually do and how they do it is different from application to application.

Search operates in the same way. The algorithm to search for a particular phrase in a text document is different than the algorithm that searches for a particular face in a photo or a video clip. (I am talking here about 'content–based search,' i.e. the type of search which looks for information inside actual images, as opposed to only searching image titles and other metadata the way image search engines such as Google Image Search were doing it in the 2000s.) However, despite these differences the general concept of search is the same: locating any elements of a single media object–or any media objects in a larger set–to match particular user–defined criteria. Thus we can ask the web browser to locate all instances of a particular word in a current web page; we can ask a web search engine to locate all web pages which contain a set of keywords; and we can ask a content–based image search engine to find all images that are similar in composition to an image we provided. ...

Against these historical developments, the innovation of media software clearly stands. They bring a new set of techniques which are implemented to work across all media. Searchability, findability, linkability, multimedia messaging and sharing, editing, view control, zoom and other 'mediaindependent' techniques are viruses that infect everything software touches–and therefore in their importance they can be compared to the basic organizing principles for media and artifacts which were used for thousands of years."

(Lev Manovich, 2013, pp.113–124)

Manovich, L. (2013). "Software Takes Command", Continuum.

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TAGS

1974algorithm • black box model • black box system • black box theory • content-based • content-based search • continuous tone • cut and pastedata typesdesktop computer • findability • general concepts • Google Image Search • GUI applications • high-level designimage identificationimage searchimage search engine • implemented differently • keyword search • Larry Tesler • Lev Manovich • linkability • low-level implementation • media independence • media production • media software • media-independent techniques • media-independent techniques from different implementations • metadata • polymorphism • raster imagesearch algorithmsearch engine • search phrase • search toolsearchabilitytechnology affordances • text document • text editing • text selection • TinEye • universal commands • vector graphicvisual searchweb search engineweb searchingXerox PARC

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 DECEMBER 2013

Divining a Digital Future - Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell

"Ubiquitous computing (or 'ubicomp') is the label for a 'third wave' of computing technologies. Following the eras of the mainframe computer and the desktop PC, ubicomp is characterized by small and powerful computing devices that are worn, carried, or embedded in the world around us. The ubicomp research agenda originated at Xerox PARC in the late 1980s; these days, some form of that vision is a reality for the millions of users of Internet–enabled phones, GPS devices, wireless networks, and 'smart' domestic appliances. In Divining a Digital Future, computer scientist Paul Dourish and cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell explore the vision that has driven the ubiquitous computing research program and the contemporary practices that have emerged––both the motivating mythology and the everyday messiness of lived experience.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the authors' collaboration, the book takes seriously the need to understand ubicomp not only technically but also culturally, socially, politically, and economically. Dourish and Bell map the terrain of contemporary ubiquitous computing, in the research community and in daily life; explore dominant narratives in ubiquitous computing around such topics as infrastructure, mobility, privacy, and domesticity; and suggest directions for future investigation, particularly with respect to methodology and conceptual foundations."

Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell (2011). "Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing", MIT Press, May 2011, ISBN 978–0–262–01555–4.

TAGS

1980s2011computer sciencecomputingcontemporary practices • contemporary ubiquitous computing • cultural anthropologydaily lifedesktop computer • desktop PC • Divining a Digital Future (book) • domesticity • embedded in the world around us • everyday messiness • feature phone • future investigation • Genevieve Bell • GPS devices • infrastructureinterdisciplinary collaboration • internet-enabled phones • lived experiencemainframemobility • Paul Dourish • privacyresearch communityresearch methodology • small and powerful computing devices • smart domestic appliances • smart phones • third wave of computing technologies • ubicomp • ubicomp research • ubiquitous computing • ubiquitous computing research • wireless networkswornXerox PARC

CONTRIBUTOR

Liam Birtles
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