The Many Faces of Context Awareness
The Many Faces of Context Awareness: A Spectrum of Technologies, Applications, and Impacts
In 1988, Mark Weiser laid the foundation for what he called the third wave of computing. The first wave was mainframe computing, followed by the second wave of desktop computing. The third wave, would be a kind of ubiquitous computing—in which technology would recede into the background of our lives. The world is now on the brink of this third wave, and at the heart of it is something we might call context awareness. In the simplest terms, context awareness just means having information about the immediate situation—the people, roles, activities, times, places, devices, and software that define the situation. But context awareness is also about meaning and meaning-making, and it is especially this piece of the technological puzzle—this sensemaking—that we address in this report. To understand the range of context-aware technologies, viewpoints, and applications, we developed a spectrum of context awareness, ranging from those that emphasize top-down design on one end to bottom-up emergence on the other. We hope that this framework will help you anticipate the kinds of successes and failures we'll see in this new wave of computing, as well as the social implications as computing moves into the environment.