Bookmarked Internet of Things and Objects of Sociality (by Ton Zijlstra, 2008)
Fifteen years ago today I blogged this brainstorming exercise about how internet-connectivity for objects might make for different and new objects of sociality. A way to interact with our environment differently. Not a whole lot of that has happened, let alone become common. What has happened is IoT being locked up in device and mobile app pairings. Our Hue lights are tied to the Hue app, and if I’d let it collect e.g. behavioural data it would go to Philips first, not to me. A Ring doorbell (now disabled), our Sonos speakers are the same Those rigid pairings are a far cry from me seamlessly interacting with my environment. One exception is our Meet Je Stad sensor in the garden, as it runs on LoRaWan and the local citizen science community has the same access as I do to the data (and I run a LoRa gateway myself, adding another control point for me).
Incoming EU legislation may help to get more agency on this front. First and foremost, the Data Act when it is finished will make it mandatory that I can access the data I generate with my use of devices like those Hue lights and Sonos speakers and any others you and I may have in use (the data from the invertor on your solar panels for instance). And allow third parties to use that data in real time. A second relevant law I think is the Cyber Resilience Act, which regulates the cybersecurity of any ‘product with digital elements’ on the EU market, and makes it mandatory to provide additional (technical) documentation around that topic.
The internet of things, increases the role of physical objects as social objects enormously, because it adds heaps of context that can serve relationships. Physical objects always have been social objects, but only in their immediate physical context. … Making physical objects internet-aware creates a slew of possible new uses for it as social objects. And if you [yourself] add more sensors or actuators to a product (object hacks so to speak), the list grows accordingly.
Ton Zijlstra, 2008