Design fiction from the UK parliament. I mean, it’s not exactly a classic of speculative fiction, but it sure beats a white paper.
There’s this idea that our homes — and our lives, and our workflows, and everything, really — should be micromanaged and accessed through technology, but, like many new experiments, this kind of technological advance has little actual real-world benefit. Like many new experiments, smart home technology is a perceived convenience masked as a wild hair — it’s advancement because we can, not because we need to.
A lyrical assessment of the current state of home automation.
Things are getting really smart on their own, but they’re still struggling to interact as a community — the promise of a smart home falling short because our appliances can’t draft a cohesive constitution. What’s more, we ourselves are struggling to modulate our reaction to these gadgets. We’re getting excited about automated lights and pretending the future has already come.
An interesting Xerox-PARC-like project dedicated to making a programmable platform out of paper and other physical objects.
A humane dynamic medium embraces the countless ways in which human beings use their minds and bodies, instead of cramming people into a tiny box of pixels.
Jonathan takes a look at the physical web. Like me, he’s excited by the possibilities. Although he says:
Sadly, my mind quickly devolved into the annoyance of numerous notifications, like popup windows and other distracting adverts, vying for my attention.
This is a common worry with the physical web, but it’s unfounded. All a beacon does is broadcast a URL. You have to actively look for the URLs being broadcast—they can’t send notifications.
It all just feels like QR codes. They’ll be all over the place and most of them won’t be very useful.
I understand this concern, but whereas QR codes are completely opaque to humans, at least URLs can—and should—be human-readable …so, unlike QR codes, a URL can give you some idea of what awaits.
Related: this great chat between Jen Simmons and Stephanie Rieger.
But we are promised and shown a world where technology is gorgeous and streamlined and helpful and light and unobtrusive. We don’t live in that world. That world is a fantasy. The hope that the Internet of Things will allow us to be free from daily headaches and logistical errors is naive.
Imagine a location service that sold itself on the fact that your personal information was securely contained in its environs, used by you and you alone. You could have devices on your person that used their sensors to know things about you – when you last ate, what your dining preferences are, what your blood-sugar is, and so on, but these devices would have no truck with the cloud, and they would not deliver that information to anyone else for analysis.
Any sufficiently advanced hacking is indistinguishable from a haunting. In the same way that many Internet of Things objects are referred to as ‘enchanting’ or ‘magical,’ with an intervention, they can very quickly become haunted.
A profile of the great work Aaron and Seb have been doing at the Cooper Hewitt museum. Have a read of this and then have a listen again to Aaron’s dConstruct talk.
Objects that talk are useful, but objects that tattle aren’t.
As we may understand: A constructionist approach to ‘behaviour change’ and the Internet of Things by Dan Lockton
An epic braindump by Dan, covering connected devices, product design, co-creation, DIY, and knopening stuff up. That’s right: knopening.
Knopen, a fairly obvious portmanteau of know and open, can be a verb (to knopen something) or an adjective (e.g. a knopen tool).
This is what Scott Jenson has been working on—a first stab at just-in-time interactions by having physical devices broadcasting URLs.
Walk up and use anything
I like Matt’s observation here that the simple combination of a barebones data format like HTML delivered over HTTP is a good-enough low-level API for joining up all kinds of internet-connected things.
In the last 60 years, the biggest software platform for interop and integration – for new products, services, businesses, and value creation – has not been Android, or iOS, or Windows, or the PDP-11. The biggest and best platform has been the web.
One implication is that successful products are not necessarily those with seamless, beautiful, tightly-controlled “experiences”, but rather the ones that are capable of talking to each other.
Small things, loosely joined.
Some interesting thoughts that follow on nicely from Scott Jenson’s ideas around just-in-time interactions:
What if the technology was actually already in the room when we got there? Maybe that’s the kind of Internet-of-things that will be more sustainable and will win long-term.
Expanding on an exercise from last year’s Hackfarm, Brian and Mike have written a deliciously dystopian near-future short story.
Scott gives us an excellent State Of The Web address, looking at how the web can be central to the coming age of ubiquitous computing. He rightly skips through the imitation of native apps and gets down to the potential of just-in-time interactions.
A state of the connected union address, with soundbites from smart people in the world of ubicomp, internet of things, everyware, or whatever it is we’re calling it now.
A profile of Tom’s house.
It’s weird how normal this is.