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The fabric of digital life: Uncovering sociotechnical tradeoffs in embodied computing through metadata

Andrew Iliadis (Department of Media Studies and Production, Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Isabel Pedersen (Department of Communication and Digital Media Studies, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 13 August 2018




This paper aims to examine how metadata taxonomies in embodied computing databases indicate context (e.g. a marketing context or an ethical context) and describe ways to track the evolution of the embodied computing industry over time through digital media archiving.


The authors compare the metadata taxonomies of two embodied computing databases by providing a narrative of their top-level categories. After identifying these categories, they describe how they structure the databases around specific themes.


The growing wearables market often hides complex sociotechnical tradeoffs. Marketing 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 such as FABRIC contain multimedia related to the emerging embodied computing market – including patents, interviews, promotional videos and news articles – 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.


This paper 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.



Iliadis, A. and Pedersen, I. (2018), "The fabric of digital life: Uncovering sociotechnical tradeoffs in embodied computing through metadata", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 311-327.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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