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Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology by Mickey McManus, Joe Ballay, Peter Lucas

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CHAPTER 6

Design Science on Trillions Mountain

We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.

—WHOLE EARTH CATALOG

If we are going to play god by creating an ecology of trillions of information devices, the first requirement is not hubris, but humility. Ecosystems are big complex things, and the ones we’re familiar with have had millions of years in which to achieve the refinement that we see today. It is vitally important that we take our first steps into pervasive computing carefully and correctly because the processes we set in motion now will have huge implications later. The stakes are high. If pervasive computing arrives without adequate principles in place to guide it, it will quickly result in incoherent, unmanageable, malignant complexity, which is another way of saying “not much will actually happen that is good and some very bad things may happen as well.” Among other important things, the viability of vast new markets is at stake. If, on the other hand, its development is guided by principled design science, technology and information will coalesce into a coherent, evolutionary, organic whole—a working information model of and for the world.

The foundations of this design science are largely in place. They come from a merging of the study of ecological patterns in Nature; from the long and evolved practices of the design professions; from the traditional sciences; and from a commitment to the search for underlying Architecture to provide structure. Yet the evolution ...

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