It seems that we have been narrow-minded when exploring the use of context in ubiquitous computing. A system’s merits will be questioned by social scientists (rightly so) as soon as its designers label it “context-aware”. Then maybe the issue here is one of terminological misunderstanding. Maybe that “context-aware” application should instead be called a “location-aware, time-aware, user profile-aware, background sound-aware, background light-aware, …” application. All those parameters can be seen as contextual parameters, yet they are not the whole story (by far).
Machines cannot fully capture and represent context, unless they can fully capture and represent users’ thoughts and practices. After all, that’s where context comes from.
Raw thoughts after reading:
Paul Dourish, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Context,” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Volume 8, Issue 1 (February 2004) [PDF]