Reality as a Medium: Context Engineering Hybrid Ecology Framework



  • Reality as a Medium: Context Engineering Hybrid Ecology Framework



  • Workshop Statement 

    Context Engineering is concerned with the technological extension of the human condition through the investigation of the ethical use of emerging technologies to enhance human and cognitive capacities. The power to rapidly shift our perspective is becoming a new form of currency. Context Engineering provides the ability within one field of view, to be both in the world and to see yourself in it, the power of looking through and occupying, your own field of vision (Gibson, E. J. 2006).

    Hybrid technology can directly shape how our brains interpret and experience reality.

    The practice of Context Engineering produces ‘experience coders’ who manufacture content as direct sensory experience (context). One of the core concerns of Context Engineering is whether we can gain a significantly greater capacity to develop and influence our brain function and crucially if that will then help us to better understand the reality that the brain creates. As a result there is an ethical responsibility to context engineer with as much knowledge of the affordances and dangers of these technologies and techniques as possible.

    This workshop on Contextual Engineering will investigate hybrid technologies and techniques that combine the affordances of the analogue with the digital to enable a new era of Hyper Function, Sensory Augmentation and Perceptual Adaptation. Context Engineering will give us new abilities, control over our senses and the ability to develop new forms of perception, providing us with a new type of self-control. HCI that relies predominantly on vision alone or the engagement of a limited range of senses can cause individual (and by implication – societal) dissonance creating a diminished rather than an augmented reality. To counteract this, making more of the context available for human centred augmentation is crucial. Greater immersion (involving all the senses) will lead to entirely new states of awareness. The game ‘Blood Sport’ increases the sense of immersion by removing actual blood from your body in the physical space whenever you get hit or killed in the virtual space. Context Engineering only actually occurs when that blood is then donated, to activate the societal benefit. This example provides a potential working definition for Context Engineering: when the content introduced has the power to completely augment the whole context then Context Engineering is achieved.

    Context engineering creates a new economy where we focus less on transforming content (as the primary activity), and more on how we can make our own perception the ‘content’. This is made possible by new advances in various fields including biotech, neuro-electronics and mixed reality technologies meaning that the lenses through which we experience the world are becoming more adjustable than ever. Products are being developed to intentionally manipulate various components of our own physiology. For instance f.lux modifies the computer’s display colour wavelength to shift with the natural external light, reducing potential circadian rhythm problems that can develop from using devices at night. These subtle shifts can produce real changes in our bodies. Other examples and applications of context engineering include: New auditory systems, new visual systems, combining senses, adjustable senses.


    The session will start with the exploration of Hybrid (VR and AR) technologies to enhance our perception and help us see, hear, and feel our environments in new and enriched ways. During the second half of the workshop we will create resources, collaborative processes and methodologies for the design of hybrid (analogue and digital) interventions.


    The core problem is how to (re)design a workable balance between digital and analogue modes of interaction. Without thoughtful design, digital interventions are simply distracting people away from meaningful engagement with the learning opportunities and social situations that they are actually designed to augment. This workshop will enable the exploration of potential methodologies, structures and actions between the participants. The overall intention is to use hybrid technologies, techniques and methodologies to deeply analyze how a Hybrid Ecology Framework can be developed.


    The take away will include the Context Engineering Hybrid Ecology Framework which will evolve in relation to the following questions for workshop: How adaptable is our perception? How neuro-plastic is the brain, what are the biological risks of Context Engineering? How can hybrid technological devices, of often-prosthetic alienation, help us to reconnect to ourselves and to the surrounding environment? How important is immersion for over coming and subverting the human condition? To what extent can content create context? How can we find an appropriate balance in this hybrid environment?


    This workshop will look beyond augmented reality to the latest hybrid technologies and techniques that are enabling a new era of Sensory Augmentation, Perceptual Adaptation and Context Engineering. The ability to alter our senses and develop entirely new ones provides us with the possibility of creating new forms of pedagogy and knowledge. The outcomes of the session will be distributed amongst the participants and placed online

    Interests in hybrid/trans tech, post-humanism and exploring the human condition are relevant and useful but not a requirement.