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Adam Greenfield on How Ubiquitous Computing Works (Book Review)

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.


When discussing the topic of ubiquitous computing, there is a particular author that really stands out — his name is Adam Greenfield. In his book Everyware: The Dawinng Age of Ubiquitous Computing (my affiliate link), he takes a look at how ubiquitous computing works and how it will affect society, in most all realms. Here, he explains more…

Everyware is an attempt to describe the form computing will take in the next few years. Specifically, it’s about a vision of processing power so distributed throughout the environment that computers per se effectively disappear. (1)
In everyware, all the information we now look to our phones or Web browsers to provide becomes accessible from just about anywhere, at any time, and is delivered in a manner appropriate to our location and context. (1)
The vision is, without doubt, a lovely one: deeply humane, even compassionate. But getting from here to there may prove unexpectedly difficult. (1)

Ubiquitous computing holds much promise in certain ways; yet, it seems that it can fall short in others. As evolution brings us toward environments where there are a multitude of computers per person, it seems that such smart environments can indeed “streamline” our lives. The problem emerges; however, when we consider how this all might actually work.


As more and more data is collected to help computers help us, privacy quickly becomes a major concern. Also important is how we plan to make “sense” this data, as sensors and actuating devices work together to “simplify” our lives. Because of such major issues, designers need to start establishing some priorities now, so that “everyware” technologies lead to smart environments that develop in optimum ways.

You, as a designer of built environments, play a major role in how this all develops. You should be informed about ubiquitous computing technologies — understanding both its great potentials and its negative effects. As technology propagates and embeds itself within architectural space(s), occupant perception will be greatly influenced while experiencing architectural works. The key is to integrate technology with architecture, so each complements the other while minimizing any negative “side-effect”.


Adam Greenfield is very thorough in his exploration of ubiquitous computing — explaining its impact on cultures, physical environments and individuals.

This is his why he wrote the book…

My intention in Everyware is simply to describe what ubiquitous computing is; establish that it is a very real concern for all of us, and in the relatively near term; explore some of the less-obvious implications of its spread as a paradigm; and finally develop some ideas about how we might improve it. (1)

Click here to buy the book: Everyware: The Dawinng Age of Ubiquitous Computing (my affiliate link)


(1) Greenfield, Adam. Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing. April 4, 2006.


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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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