Abstract for a forthcoming article:
At it’s core, the drive towards a fully-realized augmented reality is about the accessibility of information. The ability to quickly interrogate our environment in ways that reveal valuable data is a powerful adaptive capability conferred by the intersection of ubiquitous computing & augmented reality. The knowledge contained in the cloud becomes immediately visible, context-aware, and anchored to the solid world in which we move, both revealing formerly-hidden data and inviting participation & collaboration in new social annotations. The opportunity for AR to facilitate discoverability & social connections, to help reveal and share ourselves, and to reinforce social ties through visual signifiers is indeed quite promising. Yet as the hardware & software of augmented reality matures (particularly with respect to head-mounted visual overlays) it becomes possible that this technology will reinforce social elitism & designer realities, neo-tribalism, territorial conflicts, and socio-economic disparity by simultaneously inviting the wholesale tagging of our world while undermining the shared reference of objective reality we have relied upon as a fundamental socializing force since the dawn of humanity.