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The Icon 20/20 Designers: Mark Weiser 01.05.09

oystercard

An Oyster card, an early example of ubiquitous computing

Mark Weiser, who died of stomach cancer a decade ago, had an idea that could prove to be as influential on 21st-century design and architecture as the invention of electric light was on the 20th. In 1991, when most of us where still getting to grips with a mouse, Weiser was already contemplating life without it. While working as the chief scientist at Xerox Parc, the pioneering research centre in Palo Alto that invented the graphical user interface, he published his theory of "ubiquitous computing", describing a future where information technology reached out beyond the screen to become deeply embedded in the wider world around us, much as electricity is today. To Weiser the "most profound" technologies, like electricity, are those that disappear. "They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life," he wrote, "until they are indistinguishable from it."

 

Image

Adam Laycock

 

Words

Justin McGuirk, Johanna Agerman, William Wiles, Anna Bates, Beatrice Galilee, Oliver Wainwright, Alex Pasternack, Matthew Barac, Sean Dodson

 

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