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Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of…
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Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of Embodied Information

by Malcolm McCullough

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McCullough calls this book an inquiry into ambient information and our attentional practices in everyday life. It is presented in the form of a long critical essay, examining a number of core concepts pertaining to contemporary ubiquitous computing such as ambient, information, attention and embodiment. It further develops into what is called an environmental history of information, taking a long view on information in our (primarily urban) physical environment and culminating on a hopeful note with the proposed concept of peak distraction. Along the way, it draws together cognitive science, architectural criticism and interaction design in a way that forms a lasting impression even though I personally find the balance between the individual and the social to be a little bit lopsided. I would recommend the book to any interaction designer who is, or plans to be, involved in the design of pervasive, ubiquitous, ambient digital things and media. And judging by the recent infrastructural digital sprawl, that would be more or less all interaction designers.
  jonas.lowgren | Apr 15, 2016 |
A thoughtful and thought provoking meditation about an increasingly difficult issue, namely the ability to maintain, and marshal attention in a world where public spaces are increasingly bombarded by distraction. ( )
  dazzyj | Dec 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0262018802, Hardcover)

The world is filling with ever more kinds of media, in ever more contexts and formats. Glowing rectangles have become part of the scene; screens, large and small, appear everywhere. Physical locations are increasingly tagged and digitally augmented. Sensors, processors, and memory are not found only in chic smart phones but also built into everyday objects. Amid this flood, your attention practices matter more than ever. You might not be able to tune this world out. So it is worth remembering that underneath all these augmentations and data flows, fixed forms persist, and that to notice them can improve other sensibilities. In Ambient Commons, Malcolm McCullough explores the workings of attention though a rediscovery of surroundings. Not all that informs has been written and sent; not all attention involves deliberate thought. The intrinsic structure of space -- the layout of a studio, for example, or a plaza -- becomes part of any mental engagement with it. McCullough describes what he calls the Ambient: an increasing tendency to perceive information superabundance whole, where individual signals matter less and at least some mediation assumes inhabitable form. He explores how the fixed forms of architecture and the city play a cognitive role in the flow of ambient information. As a persistently inhabited world, can the Ambient be understood as a shared cultural resource, to be socially curated, voluntarily limited, and self-governed as if a commons? Ambient Commons invites you to look past current obsessions with smart phones to rethink attention itself, to care for more situated, often inescapable forms of information.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:31 -0400)

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