IMAGINE if your umbrella handle lit up to say it was raining, or a robot blew bubbles every time your name was mentioned online, or your clock could tell you exactly where your family members were?
This world of "enchanted objects" could be nearer than you think. And two Liverpool pioneers have written a guidebook to show you how you could weave some technological magic of your own in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT).
When we first spoke to Craig Smith from Wiley, we talked about the the book being printed and ready for Christmas, and we're very pleased to announce that Designing the Internet of Things is indeed ready for the festive season. Admittedly Craig had meant Christmas 2012, but we hope it's been worth the wait.
We're currently working through "Author Review", where a baffling number of editors (Project Editor, Techical Editor, Copy Editor) apply their incisive critical faculties to pointing out everything from spelling mistakes and factual errors to problems with content, structure, and tone.
Here's part of a paragraph from one chapter, and the comment from our TE Daniel:
While having an Internet-accessible computer in a fixed location was useful to those who needed to use it for work or studies, it would often be monopolized disproportionately by male and younger members of the family for general browsing or gaming. Now that the whole family can go online in the comfort of the living room sofa or their own room, they tend to do so in greater numbers and with ever greater confidence.Is that demonstrably true? It's a sweeping generalisation that fits the stereotypes, but the sociologist in me wants a bit of data behind it.
Yes, our editors keep insisting that we back statements up, rather than just making them up, annoying isn't it?
It was the first time I'd visited Italy since I lived in Turin in 2008, and it was lovely to go back, if an all-too-short trip.
There was an interesting mix of attendees and discusions, and some good debate following on from my talk about whether Europe, and Italy in particular, with its long history of design and networks of small and creative manufacturers could leverage that to lead the way in the Internet of Things. I think there's a real opportunity there, and would love to discuss it further.
Anyway, here are the slides from my talk, along with my notes of what I intended, at least, to say...
I met up with an old friend Paul Ede, who is researching Urban Ecotheology, inspired by the Finnish academic Seppo Kjellberg's book of that name. Though theology is very much not my topic, it was fascinating to see how it relates to urbanism (the idea of Heaven as a city, in contrast to the original rural garden of Eden).
According to the cover blurb, Kjellberg presents "a cosmological instead of an anthropocentric attitude towards the city and all that lives within it." Of course our focus, as relates to IoT, has always been specifically about how it relates Humans, and much less about how it can be used by industry or governments, much less God. Similarly, Adam Greenfield's recent summary of his upcoming book The City is Here for You to Use presents a humanist view, opposed to threats from "semi-autonomous agents of a nonhuman, indeed nonbiological, nature, from drones to algorithms" (#13), from a notion of the "Smart City" predicated on a "neoliberal political economy [...] disturbingly consonant with the exercise of authoritarianism" (#28), and from the "colonization of everyday life by information technology" (#97).