21 April 2017

[Book] The Stuff of Bits – An Essay on the Materialities of Information

Be the first to share

The Stuff of Bits: An Essay on the Materialities of Information
by Paul Dourish
MIT Press, May 2017
264 pages

Virtual entities that populate our digital experience, like e-books, virtual worlds, and online stores, are backed by the large-scale physical infrastructures of server farms, fiber optic cables, power plants, and microwave links. But another domain of material constraints also shapes digital living: the digital representations sketched on whiteboards, encoded into software, stored in databases, loaded into computer memory, and transmitted on networks. These digital representations encode aspects of our everyday world and make them available for digital processing. The limits and capacities of those representations carry significant consequences for digital society.

In The Stuff of Bits, Paul Dourish examines the specific materialities that certain digital objects exhibit. He presents four case studies: emulation, the creation of a “virtual” computer inside another; digital spreadsheets and their role in organizational practice; relational databases and the issue of “the databaseable”; and the evolution of digital networking and the representational entailments of network protocols. These case studies demonstrate how a materialist account can offer an entry point to broader concerns—questions of power, policy, and polity in the realm of the digital.

Paul Dourish is Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics and Associate Dean for Research in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and in Anthropology. His research lies at the intersection of computer science and social science, with a particular interest in ubiquitous and mobile computing and the cultural practices surrounding digital media. He is the author of Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction and coauthor of Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing, both published by the MIT Press.

Be the first to share
18 January 2018
Proceedings and videos of EPIC 2017 conference now available
EPIC is the premier international gathering on ethnography in the business world. Its latest edition, EPIC2017, took place in Montreal in October 2017 and had the theme of "Perspectives": perspectives explores the vantage points that …
18 January 2018
[Book] Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere
Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere Christian Wolmar London Publishing Partnership Jan 2018, 136 pages Driverless cars are the future. That is what the tech giants, the auto industry and even the government want us to think. Almost …
18 January 2018
Towards multi-dimensional ethnography
In this paper, Julia Katherine Haines, user experience researcher at Google, argues for the value of multi-dimensional ethnography. She explores the potential for ethnography to venture beyond sites, into different dimensions. As an example of …
3 January 2018
Videos of all keynote and plenary presentations at the Service Design Global Conference
The theme of this year's Service Design Global Conference (November 2-3, Madrid) was Service Design at Scale. Through continued practice, widespread capability building, and successful implementation of service strategy and execution, the face of organisations …
3 January 2018
This Anthro Life podcasts on design anthropology
This Anthro Life is a round-table, open format discussion of an anthropological take on the people, objects, ideas, and possibilities of everyday life around the world. They are hosted by Adam Gamwell and Ryan Collins …
15 December 2017
[Book] Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age
Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age by Matthew J. Salganik Princeton University Press 2017, 448 pages [Read online] An innovative and accessible guide to doing social research in the digital age In just the past several years, we …
6 December 2017
Workplace anthropology video series
A few months ago a new channel Workplace Anthropology Matters popped up on Youtube that profiles workplace anthropologists, whose work directly influence their own workplace processes. The video series is part of a workshop in …
22 November 2017
[Book] Making Cities Smarter
Making Cities Smarter - Designing Interactive Urban Applications by Martin Tomitsch Jovis Publishers March 2018, 208 pages Abstract More than half of the world's population is now living in cities, and this number is predicted to rise. This means that …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

22 December 2017
Happy new year 2018!
30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives

The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates a need for improvement in transparency of public services delivery and use of supporting technology like eIDs or eDocuments. Performance […]

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

See all articles