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“Realities behind ICT Dreams” : Designing a Ubiquitous City in a Living Lab Environment

Tiina Suopajärvi, Johanna Ylipulli, Taina Kinnunen


The living lab methodology in technology design emphasizes user involvement throughout the innovation process. This article discusses the execution of this methodology in building a future ubiquitous city in northern Finland. We analyse how the sociomaterial practices of ICT design are constructed in thematic interviews with the designers. Three practices determining the realisation of the ubiquitous city were identified: Funding resources framing user involvement; keeping up the high-tech image of the city; and pursuit of scientific innovation. Then, following feminist technology studies, we discuss how power relations are negotiated, and how the user of new technology is constructed in the design process. In this particular living lab, users were configured as unidentified testers and consumers of the implemented technology rather than innovative co-creators. By reflecting on our position as female anthropologists we also illuminate the situatedness of scientific knowledge.


ICT design; ubiquitous technology; sociomaterial practices; living lab; situated knowledge

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