The Internet of things

Estimated reading time 2–3 minutes

Internet of Things — An action plan for Europe is an EU document describing the EU’s response to “The Internet of Things” (IoT), as technologies such as
RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC), and wireless sensor/actuators now allow objects to be tagged and linked to information.

The EC is financing “research projects in the area of IoT, putting an emphasis on important technological aspects such as microelectronics, non-silicon based components, energy harvesting technologies, ubiquitous positioning, networks of wirelessly
communicating smart systems, semantics, privacy- and security-by-design, software emulating human reasoning and on novel applications.”

As well as obvious information management issues, there are interesting implications for privacy and security. For example, will the IoT reduce property crime or just create a black market for false tags or fake URIs and geolocators? Will criminals set up their own systems to track shipments of contraband? Will we get “object identity theft” with contraband labelled as legitimate goods? This seems to me to be a categorisation issue.

It might be fun to be able to tag my stuff with my own folksonomic labels to help me sort my house out or pack to go on holiday, and then make sure I don’t leave things in hotel rooms, but I suspect it might waste more time than it saves!

Another issue is how long before we extend this kind of tracking to ourselves? A friend said to me the other day that we should all have our own URI, which would save having to update our records when people change their phone numbers, email, addresses, etc. Add that to the geolocation tracking that is already happening, and no-one will get to be anywhere without it being recorded. Is that really useful, or scarily Big Brotherish?

There is a lovely metpahor of “Favela chic” (subversive, non-commerical) versus “Gothic High Tech” (repressive regime) in Twitter and The Web of Flow: Talking with Stowe Boyd & Bruce Sterling about Microsyntax, Squelettes, Favela Chic and the State of Now which I found via Open Intelligence (on Twitter!).


First ISKO UK Conference

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I’ve given the conference a whole page as there were so many fascinating presentations. The conference website has all the proceedings: papers, abstracts, slides, etc., so my write-up is just some of my personal observations. There were two tracks, so I didn’t hear every presentation.

I would like to thank everyone who looked at my poster and for all your support and kind comments.

Understanding Computers and Cognition

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Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design is another classic I should almost certainly have read ages ago. It gives very straigthforward explanations of why language and cognition are complex social processes and how this presents huge challenges for designers and for the whole field of AI.

I also enjoyed the wonderful predictions that by 1988 we would have “thinking computers” and advertisements from 1982 offering “programs that understand you so that you don’t have to understand them”. Technology progresses, hype remains a constant!

It is also interesting that “not having to understand” was promoted, rather than “being easy to understand”, even back then. I’ve always thought of usability about being helpful and increasing clarity, rather than about encouraging people not to think at all.