The Fabric of Digital Life: Uncovering Sociotechnical Tradeoffs in Embodied Computing Through Metadata
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 16(3), Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 3, 2018
Purpose – The paper examines how metadata taxonomies in embodied computing databases indicate their orientation (e.g. indicating a marketing focus vs. a focus on ethical and social impact) and describes ways to track the evolution of the embodied computing industry over time through digital media archiving. Design/methodology/approach – We compare the metadata taxonomies of two embodied computing databases by providing a narrative of their top-level categories. After identifying these categories, we describe how they structure the databases around specific themes. Findings – The growing wearables market often hides complex sociotechnical tradeoffs. Marketing information products like Vandrico Inc.’s Wearables Database frame wearables as business solutions without conveying information about the various concessions users make (about giving up their data, for example). Potential solutions to this problem include enhancing embodied computing literacy through the construction of databases that track media about embodied computing technologies using customized metadata categories. Databases like FABRIC contain multimedia related to the emerging embodied computing market – including patents, interviews, promotional videos, and news articles, etc. – and can be archived through user-curated collections and tagged according to specific themes (privacy, policing, labor, etc.). One of the benefits of this approach is that users can use the rich metadata fields to search for terms and create curated collections that focus on tradeoffs related to embodied computing technologies. Originality/value – The article describes the importance of metadata for framing the orientation of embodied computing databases and describes one of the first attempts to comprehensively track the evolution of embodied computing technologies, their developers, and their diverse applications in various social contexts through media archiving.
Keywords: Embodied Computing, Wearables, Privacy, Tradeoffs, Ethics, Metadata
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