The computer revolution is in full swing but it is still in its infancy because it has not yet been

globalized -- only a very small portion of the population of the world has been able to take part in this revolution or reap any benefits from it.

localized -- the form and applications of computers today are not appropriate for addressing the needs of many of the marginalized populations in the world.

democratized -- only a small number of professionals have had the opportunity to use computation and computers to make tools or artifacts to meet their own needs or the needs of others.

However, the computer revolution has an unprecedented opportunity to go through a major developmental growth by striving for

global ubiquity -- the development tools and technical knowledge, as well as the best applications/practices of computational tools should be made accessible globally.

local appropriation -- the malleability of computational tools makes it possible to imagine and realize new solutions and approaches, both in term of form and applications of computers, that are resonant with the local cultural and social norms and customs.

grassroots development -- we should develop higher level tools that would allow people of diverse backgrounds, styles, and sensibilities to participate in creating with computational tools artifacts and tools that are personally meaningful to them and the reality of their lives.

The Tower System is a toolkit designed to realize this potential. This tool consists of a large collection of hardware modules and a customizable, modular virtual machine for rapid prototyping hardware, firmware and software components of sensing and monitoring, actuation and display, wireless communication and networking applications.

One particularly interesting application of the Tower System is designing and building all the programming, diagnostic, and manufacturing tools needed to build full new Towers.


(C) MIT Media Laboratory, July 2002