Aesthetic Concerns in Pervasive Information Systems

Johan Redström



Aesthetics is a subject receiving increasing attention in the design of pervasive information systems. One reason is the realisation that existing approaches centred on usability and utility do not seem to cover aspects of use essential to the realm of the everyday. Another reason aesthetics enters the picture is that by leaving the established domain of personal computing, pervasive information technology comes in close contact with other design traditions engaged in the design of everyday things, and thus also a very different set of perspectives, values and approaches. As we position pervasive information systems in relation to design traditions such as architecture and industrial design, it becomes apparent that we often lack even a rudimentary understanding of the expressiveness and aesthetics of the technology we are working with.

This chapter attempts to raise aesthetics as an issue that needs to be addressed in pervasive information systems: the motivations behind it; examples of what is being proposed, and; a critical discussion of its prospects. By taking a broader look at some of the key issues, and what general development strategies are evident, the chapter tries to present, if not a coherent picture, then at least an illustration that there indeed is something of an aesthetics of pervasive information systems emerging.


In Giaglis, G. and Kourouthanassis, P. (Eds.) Pervasive Information Systems. M. E. Sharpe, 2007.


© 2007

johan redström