Category: Networks and Systems


The Internet of Things - Or The Internet of Whens?

October 15th, 2008 — 11:22pm

I just requested a copy of The Inter­net of Things pam­phlet by Rob van Kra­nen­berg from the Net­work Note­books series (by networkcultures.org / Geert Lovink — who’s basi­cally around the cor­ner now that I’m here in Ams­ter­dam). In com­bi­na­tion with a read through Every­ware, it’s got me think­ing about some of the basic assump­tions we’re rely­ing on to frame the future of com­put­ing as it impacts our lives.
One of the key enablers under­ly­ing The Inter­net of Things is the IPv6 stan­dard, whose address scheme has an unbe­liev­able range of pos­si­ble addresses — 2 to the 128th power — so many that attempts to make it com­pre­hen­si­ble by anal­ogy strain the bound­aries of the absurd.
All of these com­par­isons beg the essen­tial ques­tion of what exactly we will be address­ing. So far, the gen­eral class of objects ‘Things’ is the most likely that I’ve heard posited. All of more spe­cific sug­ges­tions — such as all the grains of sand in the world, or every plant in every farm field on the planet — remain in the cat­e­gory of the sim­ply fan­ci­ful.
I think this focus on objects as the dom­i­nant type of addressed node in the new net­work lacks imag­i­na­tion. [At the IFTF sug­gests the Inter­net of Verbs]
The the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity uni­fied space and time, so why not use IPV6 to address moments of time as well as huge col­lec­tions of things?
Mas­sive cloud stor­age arrays and ultra-wide-band data trans­fer infra­struc­tures may make it fea­si­ble to record the cumu­la­tive sen­sory expe­ri­ences of entire human lives, or groups of peo­ple, or whole crowds; why not give each dis­crete fem­tosec­ond slice of these aggre­gate expe­ri­ences an address for easy archiv­ing, retrieval, and manip­u­la­tion?
Going back 13 bil­lion years to the begin­ning of the uni­verse would give us The Inter­net of Whens.
Map­ping every deci­sion made by peo­ple dur­ing the course of their day (200 on food alone), or their life, would give us The Inter­net of Whys.
Labelling all the loca­tions in the four-dimensional coör­di­nate scheme would cre­ate The Inter­net of Wheres.
Address­ing all the cells in all the human bod­ies would result in The Inter­net of Whos.
We must be bet­ter attuned to the pos­si­bil­i­ties afforded by all this ‘space’ we’re giv­ing our­selves to play with.

1 comment » | Ideas, Networks and Systems

Obama Crowdsources Election Campaign Funding

June 19th, 2008 — 12:08pm

The NYTimes reports today in Obama Opts Out of Pub­lic Financ­ing for Cam­paign that Sen­a­tor Obama
”…raised $95 mil­lion in Feb­ru­ary and March alone, most of it, as his aides noted Thurs­day, in small con­tri­bu­tions raised on the Inter­net. More than 90 per­cent of the campaign’s con­tri­bu­tions were for $100 or less, said Robert Gibbs, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor to Mr. Obama.“
Obama’s suc­cess rais­ing money with small dona­tions is a clear indi­ca­tor that crowd­sourc­ing is a viable approach to financ­ing what is prob­a­bly the most expen­sive and demand­ing type of elec­toral con­test ever seen — a U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.
The old ways aren’t going away just yet — wit­ness McCain’s more con­ven­tional reliance on a mixed palette of pub­lic finance and unlim­ited dona­tions to the RNC — but suc­cess­ful crowd­sourc­ing of an elec­tion effort of this scale and dura­tion proves other mod­els — net­worked, dis­trib­uted / decen­tral­ized, bottom-up, etc. — can be effec­tive in the most chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions.
“Instead of forc­ing us to rely on mil­lions from Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists and spe­cial inter­est PACs, you’ve fueled this cam­paign with dona­tions of $5, $10, $20, what­ever you can afford,” he told his sup­port­ers in the video mes­sage. “And because you did, we’ve built a grass­roots move­ment of over 1.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans.“
And that’s a good thing. The rel­a­tive elec­toral stale­mate we’ve had in the U.S. for the last decade echoes the trench war­fare phase of World War One; grind­ing bat­tles of attri­tion between nom­i­nally dis­tinct com­bat­ants that con­sume much, accom­plish lit­tle, and yield no sub­stan­tive change for the peo­ple involved.
The next step is to apply this net­worked / crowd­sourced / dis­trib­uted financ­ing model to sup­port a cam­paign by some­one out­side the (dis­tress­ingly) com­pla­cent major par­ties. We’ve man­aged to change the feed­ing mech­a­nism, now we have to change the ani­mal it feeds.

Comment » | Networks and Systems, Politics

Video of My BlogTalk Presentation

March 11th, 2008 — 2:26pm

Video of my BlogTalk pre­sen­ta­tion ‘What hap­pens when every­one designs social media? Prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for han­dling new eth­i­cal dilem­mas’ is avail­able from Ustream.tv. The res­o­lu­tion is low (it was shot with a web­cam) but the audio is good: fol­low along with the slides on your own for the full expe­ri­ence.

More videos of BlogTalk ses­sions here.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

IA Summit Talks on Ethics, Experience Design, Social Networks

March 4th, 2008 — 6:52am

Thanks to Facebook’s pub­lic mis­takes and apol­ogy to those affected by Bea­con , as well as a num­ber of other ham-handed attempts to mon­e­tize the social graph, the inter­sec­tion of ethics, design, and social net­works is receiv­ing over­due atten­tion. Two talks at this year’s Infor­ma­tion Archi­tec­ture Sum­mit in Miami will look at ethics as it applies to the daily work of cre­at­ing social net­works, and user expe­ri­ences in gen­eral.
First is Design­ing for the social: Avoid­ing anti-social net­works, by Miles Rochford, descrip­tion below.
This pre­sen­ta­tion con­sid­ers the role of tra­di­tional social net­works and the role of IAs in address­ing the chal­lenges that arise when design­ing and using online social net­works.
The pre­sen­ta­tion dis­cusses philo­soph­i­cal approaches to shar­ing the self, how this relates to offline social net­works and human inter­ac­tions in dif­fer­ent con­texts, and pro­vides guid­ance on how online social net­work­ing tools can be designed to sup­port these rela­tion­ships.
It also cov­ers eth­i­cal issues, includ­ing pri­vacy, and how these can con­flict with busi­ness needs. A range of exam­ples illus­trate the impact of these dri­vers and how design deci­sions can lead to the cre­ation of anti-social networks.

Related: the social net­works anti-patterns list from the microformats.org wiki.
The sec­ond is The impact of social ethics on IA and inter­ac­tive design — expe­ri­ences from the Nor­we­gian woods, by Karl Yohan Saeth and Ingrid Tofte, described as fol­lows:

This pre­sen­ta­tion dis­cusses ethics in IA from a prac­ti­cal point of view. Through dif­fer­ent case stud­ies we illus­trate the impact of social ethics on IA and inter­ac­tive design, and sum up our expe­ri­ences on deal­ing with ethics in real projects.

If you’re inter­ested in ethics and the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of user expe­ri­ence (and who isn’t?), both ses­sions look good. I’ll be talk­ing about other things at the sum­mit this year. In the mean­time, stay tuned for the sec­ond arti­cle in my UXMat­ters series on design­ing eth­i­cal expe­ri­ences, due for pub­li­ca­tion very soon.

Comment » | Ideas, Information Architecture, Networks and Systems

Blogtalk 2008 slides available

March 3rd, 2008 — 7:12am

My slides from Blogtalk 2008 are avail­able online now: I went through a lot of ideas quickly, so this is a good way to fol­low along at your own pace…
FYI: This ver­sion of the deck includes pre­sen­ters notes — I’ll upload a (larger!) view-only ver­sion once I’m back from hol­i­day in lovely Éire.

Comments Off | Ideas, Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

The DIY Future: What Happens When Everyone Is A Designer?

November 19th, 2007 — 4:30pm

I’m post­ing the abstract for my clos­ing talk at the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit, as well as the slides, below.
Hope you enjoy!
Abstract:
Broad cul­tural, tech­no­log­i­cal, and eco­nomic shifts are rapidly eras­ing the dis­tinc­tions between those who cre­ate and those who use, con­sume, or par­tic­i­pate. This is true in dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences and infor­ma­tion envi­ron­ments of all types, as well as in the phys­i­cal and con­cep­tual realms. In all of these con­texts, sub­stan­tial exper­tise, costly tools, spe­cial­ized mate­ri­als, and large-scale chan­nels for dis­tri­b­u­tion are no longer required to exe­cute design.
The ero­sion of tra­di­tional bar­ri­ers to cre­ation marks the onset of the DIY Future, when every­one is a poten­tial designer (or archi­tect, or engi­neer, or author) of inte­grated expe­ri­ences — the hybrid con­structs that com­bine prod­ucts, ser­vices, con­cepts, net­works, and infor­ma­tion in sup­port of evolv­ing func­tional and emo­tional pur­suits.
The cul­tural and tech­no­log­i­cal shifts that com­prise the oncom­ing DIY Future promise sub­stan­tial changes to the envi­ron­ments and audi­ences that design pro­fes­sion­als cre­ate for, as well as the role of design­ers, and the ways that pro­fes­sion­als and ama­teurs alike will design. One inevitable aspect con­se­quence will be greater com­plex­ity for all involved in the design of inte­grated expe­ri­ences. The poten­tial rise of new eco­nomic and pro­duc­tion mod­els is another.
The time is right to begin explor­ing aspects of the DIY Future, espe­cially its pro­found impli­ca­tions for infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture and user expe­ri­ence design. Using the designer’s pow­er­ful fusion of ana­lyt­i­cal per­spec­tive and cre­ative vision, we can bal­ance spec­u­la­tive futur­ism with an under­stand­ing of con­crete prob­lems — such as grow­ing eth­i­cal chal­lenges and how to resolve them — from the present day.
Here’s the slides, avail­able from SlideShare:

Comment » | Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

The Value of the Network: Links As Social Capital

August 30th, 2007 — 3:17pm

This is a small site with mod­est traf­fic. But it is still the case that a sub­stan­tial set of inbound links lead peo­ple from diverse ori­gins — search engines, blogs, con­tent aggre­ga­tors, feed read­ers, direc­to­ries, etc. — to many des­ti­na­tions within the site every day. Some of these con­nec­tions are vis­i­ble in the del.icio.us tag clouds that appear with indi­vid­ual post­ings, my con­tri­bu­tion to the Web’s ongo­ing col­lec­tive exper­i­ment with tag­ging and social book­mark­ing.
French soci­ol­o­gist Pierre Bour­dieu named this set of con­nec­tions and the social rela­tion­ships asso­ci­ated with them in the early 1970s, coin­ing the term social cap­i­tal, and thereby inspir­ing legions of civic and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions to cre­ate devel­op­ment, invest­ment, and man­age­ment strate­gies for this new valu­able kind of resource.
But what is the <a href=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe” onclick=“javascript:_gaq.push([’_trackEvent’,‘outbound-article’,‘http://en.wikipedia.org’]);“s_law”>value of the network?
Fast for­ward a bit, and we can see that no mat­ter how you choose to cal­cu­late that value, Google has built a busi­ness rely­ing the new resource of cumu­la­tive social cap­i­tal, using it via mech­a­nisms such as latent seman­tic index­ing.
And we can see that in giv­ing form and focus to the idea of social cap­i­tal, Bour­dieu set the con­cep­tual stage for the recent explo­sion of social media and net­work­ing appli­ca­tions. Simul­ta­ne­ously des­ti­na­tions — albeit of unknown lifes­pan — and busi­ness ven­tures, the social net­works are recent exem­plars of long­time cul­tural move­ments of reifi­ca­tion, vir­tu­al­iza­tion, and visu­al­iza­tion of fields — another key con­cept iden­ti­fied by Bour­dieu.
Behind the scenes, the infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture that solid­i­fies the lim­ited social cap­i­tal of this site in phys­i­cal / dig­i­tal form is a mot­ley col­lec­tion of dis­parately named HTML files, tag des­ti­na­tion pages, cgi-powered con­tent streams, RSS feeds, local search results sets, etc. The prospect of get­ting another pub­lish­ing plat­form to mimic this mis­cel­lany was — like tun­ing an instru­ment to play songs com­posed with notes from another music sys­tem — not some­thing I could do as quickly and cheaply.
And so in com­bi­na­tion with the per­pet­ual urgency of the DIY mind­set, the imper­a­tive of pre­serv­ing the value of the exist­ing store of social cap­i­tal made the deci­sion to upgrade along an exist­ing path to MT4 sim­ple.
Archi­tec­turally, this is the equiv­a­lent of stick­ing with the brand name you know well.

Comment » | Networks and Systems

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