“Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” by Clive Thompson on the NYT
“In essence, Facebook users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive. Why? Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.”
some references on ambient awareness from socnet mailing list:
Earlier work on ambient awareness / ambient computing related to having
physical devices (e.g., fountains) actively reflecting the status of some metric of
interest (e.g., how well the computer system was running). The idea of
“cooperative buildings” relates to this, e.g.,
N. A. Streitz, J. Siegel, V. Hartkopf, S. Konomi (Eds.)(1999), Cooperative
Buildings: Integrating Information, Organizations and Architecture. Berlin:
Collections by Toru Ishida and his work are relevant to this area as well, e.g.,
Toru Ishida (Ed.)(1998), Community Computing and Support Systems, Lecture
Notes in Computer Science 1519 (pp. 201-217). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
And later collections titled “Digital Cities”
Digital cities: Technologies, experiences and future perspective (2000)
Digital Cities II: Computational and Sociological Approaches (2002)
More contemporary work that is likely to be relevant is about computing in
cities, e.g., work by Stephen Graham. And, on the other side, surveillance is
also an awareness issue, e.g., work by David Lyon.
(BTW. Wikipedia seems to have this area classified under “ambient intelligence”).