FCJ-135 Feral Computing: From Ubiquitous Calculation to Wild Interactions

Sonia Matos, Matthew Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the consequences of an ‘interactive’ paradigm derived from developments in computing, as opposed to initial ideas of ‘calm’ technology, as an element in the ongoing development of ubiquitous computing. Suggesting ways in which design might work in distributed forms it moves from tight ergonomically-focused interaction design to interactive designs set ‘out in the wild’ in urban spaces and in interaction that entangle with things and processes that are fundamentally unformalised. This shift seems even more relevant when considering the embedded quality of most ‘intelligent’ devices. Rather than proposing the perfection of the ‘phantom’ existence of such devices – , as imperceptible and innocent augmentations of spaces –, the distribution of multifarious forms of computational power push the need to recognize dynamic ecological logics of interaction. The paradigm of ‘interactivity’ has recognized the way in which computation – at a number of different levels of articulation – has had to expand. These transformations have been accompanied by similar shifts in neighbouring areas. Cognitive science, in its recognition of situated, embedded, embodied and distributed logics, and in Cybernetics, as it pre-cursively moved towards a figuration of reflexivity. These insights have fed the development of new approaches to human-computer relations, emphasizing new scales and qualities of interactivity. As computing in turn moves from formally described interaction and also becomes something beyond what is simply technically ‘open’ through growing logics of ubiquity, possibilities open for a range of new contexts, users, artifacts and interaction dynamics with implications for design and its cultural, social, political and inventive capacities. As a consequence, this paper proposes that computational design is opened up into unpredictable feral states requiring new concepts, generating novel design practices and figurations of design knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-163
Number of pages18
JournalFibreculture Journal: Digital Media + Networks + Transdisciplinary Critique
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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