Institute for the Future: Blended Realities Fall Technology Exchange


While I’m still in Helsinki I’m projecting myself into the near future, thinking about this upcoming seasonal “Fall Technology Horizons Exchange” with the Institute for the Future, November 18 and 19. I’ll be on a small panel with the lovely Kati London of Botanicalls fame and with whom I shared an all-too brief stage at DLD in Munich last February.

Our panel topic is described thus: By giving plants, trees and other inanimate objects online identity, people are bringing awareness and sentience to the objects around us. What happens when trees, plants, and things we carry acquire online presence and can communicate with us and with each other? How do you respond when your wallet pings you?

Good stuff.

The full event is on physical-digital hybridity, under the title “Blended Reality: Reports from the Digital/Physical Future.”

Get ready to immerse yourself in a new blended world, a place where people
weave together digital and physical environments as they go about their daily
lives. It’s a world where the virtual and the physical are seamlessly integrated,
and Cyberspace is not a place you go to but rather a layer tightly integrated into
the world around us.

Continue reading Institute for the Future: Blended Realities Fall Technology Exchange

The Internet of Things?

Continued musings on The Internet of Things, this time for a talk and then public lecture at Mediamatic in Amsterdam as part of their RFID & The Internet of Things workshop. What are the ways that the Internet of Things can become a playful, life-affirming, habitable way to join 1st Life activity through 2nd Life expressions? Can we have more than sedentary, locked-in-front-of-the-screen 2nd lives that do more than spin an avatar around in a dungeon land of warlocks? 2nd lives that have consequential, meaningful linkages to the world our atrophying bodies have to occupy, no matter what our WoW level is? Did we learn anything useful from South Park 1008?

It was great to meet Arie Altena, Slava Kozlov and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, and all the workshop participants.

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Networked Objects & The Internet of Things

Networked Objects

photo background cc by benlo (

Here are slides from my keynote at the Cross Media Week “Internet of Things” session. The talk itself was more extemporaneously authored from an outline and notes than written, but the slides capture the major conceptual beats.

Keynote Outline:

From a Social Web to a Internet of Things: What happens when 1st Life & 2nd Life mash up?

Main Points
a. the digital communications network known as the Internet is an instrument of social engagement & exchange, and its instrumentalities (devices, databases, routers, web servers) are part of that social engagement & exchange. When other kinds of objects are “hooked-into” that network, they are caught up in the messy imbroglio of the social life of the internet.

If this is the case, then we should consider these objects as not inert objects, but social actors that shape and inform the kind of discourse that happens on these networks. So, i will refer to the various and diverse social actors amongst these networks (internet, intranet, whatever) variously as “participants”, social actors, social objects, and so forth. The reason is to emphasize that anything and anyone within the network has a role to play in the creation of social life of various kinds.

1st Life is (imprecise, but convenient) shorthand for the world we occupy when we are ostensibly disengaged from the realm of digital networks. 2nd Life is (imprecise, but convenient) shorthand for the social place made through digitally networked publics “online.”

b. The Internet of Social Beings
If we think about the Internet as a place that has exerted a good deal of influence on the way social beings interact, and has transformed digital, instrumented networks into networks in which culture is made and creativity is circulated, what will happen when that network also encompasses other kinds of interaction partners that previously were bound exclusively to 1st Life, as we once were?

If the Internet of Social Beings has significantly altered how power is asserted, how politics are enacted, and what gets to count as play and entertainment, what will happen when it is not just social beings participating as digitally networked publics?

c. The 1st Internet of Things
ITU Report on the Internet of Things for strategy & policy professionals in the telecommunications trade, stakes the terrain for networked devices designed specifically for operational efficiency, inventory management, process controls, etc. Largest practice is knowing where all your stuff is, for large distributed 1st Life enterprises. The goal is to create linkages between digital representations of inventory items and the inventory items themselves — in other words, between databases and the things the database represents. The assumption is that if you can make a bridge that represents a 1 to 1 correspondence between digital and physical instances, you’ll have arrived at operational nirvana.

This requires that many difficult and possibly intractable problems be considered, such as figuring out where something is, and how you know something is what it appears to be. So, tagging enters the problem space, and with RFID you have a way to tag objects and create that hypothetical bridge in that an RFID tag can be made to correspond to, on the one hand, an entry in a database and, on the other hand, a box on a shelf in the back of a delivery vehicle. 1st Life / 2nd Life bridges.

d. What happens when 1st Life Things Participate in the Network?
When a previously inert “thing” is made to digitally participate, alongside of the already-there inhabitants of 2nd Life networks “thing”, it becomes something else — a social actor able to exert influential and asserts itself by shaping the social practices that surround it.

* Cisco routers that can block network traffic incites political and social debate over freedom of speech
* RFID and operations control over the movement of inventory changes retail practices
* FBOWeb, tracking aircraft

What do we know about other social beings, other than humans, on the Internet? What is the precedent for other species, objects, artifacts on the network?

* Experiments in Galvinism (Garnet Hertz)
* Fly (with implanted webserver) (Garnet Hertz)

What are some early signals that objects participate in a distinctive way in the social web? “Blogjects”, which are? Does social practice really inflect because things participate in the social web?

* Pigeon Blog
* Hedgehog Blog (we laughed at home pages, but now we have MySpace)
* Critter Cams
* Video surveillance blogs

e. A New Episteme — Transformations.
Operational efficiency and optimization shape the 1st Internet of Things, what is the 2.0 Internet of Things? What is the distinctive shift that marks a boundary between an instrumented Internet of Things and an Internet of Things that asserts social practice over the instrumentalities of technical things like RFIDs and machine-to-machine sensor networks? What are the systemic, epistemic transformations that occurred in the social web? And will these transformations be exempt from a web of things? And given these transformations, what might we want from an Internet of Things?

f. 5 Transformations
* means and mechanisms for asserting power and engaging in political processes are now recognized to have been transformed
* reconfigured meanings of leisure, entertainment & play
* apparatus and the way we engage it changes (terminals all over, rather than the fixed, single PC)
* DIY practices from the fringe shape the kinds of engagements we have with media, with community practices, with social life online (i.e. what we do online is shaped by a vanguard of digital craftspeople operating without the burden of age & wisdom — they take risks and do it because it feels right)
* the linkages amongst social agents shapes the digital public sphere, we can know lots about everyone and everything. privacy is made public.

g. The 2nd Internet of Things — 1st Life & 2nd Life Meet
Once you’ve started working through this problem of bridging 1st Life and 2nd Life, you’ve opened up a whole new set of possibilities for what you can do with digital networks. Those networks need not be constrained to terminate at data terminals, LCD screens, laptops or even our mobile phones. The network can reach other kinds of objects entirely — not just ones designed for direct human interaction, like computers.

What is a social web that includes not just teenagers on MySpace, but trees equipped with sensors that verbally complain to the noise abatement authorities when audio levels in their park grow too loud?

When things are linked into the digital network they can’t help but become engaged in the social practices that are already in full swing therein. The weak signals indicate that the linkage is bidirectional — into 1st Life from 2nd Life as well as 2nd Life into 1st Life.

* Nike+
* AiR project
* Tripwire
* Crossroads Game
* Pigeon Blog
* Animal Crossing
* Insectopia Game

h. Summary and Conclusions

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Near Field Interaction and the Internets of Things: Workshop Notes

In the middle of the second and final day of the workshop Timo, Nicolas and I organized, and the four working groups are quietly working in groups. Most of the first day was spent with a “5-Minute Madness” introductions from everyone — presenting, with three slides, their POV or perspective on “Touch” semantics as it pertains to tangible networked interaction design. The “Touch” idiom is deliberately loose — we’re not focusing on an instrumentality like RFID, but rather things that could be imagined to have some proximity, swipey, near-field interaction syntax.

Parenthetically, I am now officially a bigger fan of small, hands-on workshops than large, hands-off professional society conferences. I recognize the purpose of the professional conferences as ways to disseminate research, but my (naive? unfounded? newbie?) perspective is that they are now pretty much for funded research projects and corporate labs, of which I am neither. I enjoy going to meet friends and colleagues, but as far as a forum for triggering new perspectives on the research vectors that make me excited, they work pretty much like an expertly applied sleeper hold.

The workshop here, “Touch”, was organized pretty much to foster knotting up a diversity of perspectives on what Touch means as an interaction syntax. There was no specific goal — we didn’t set out with a problem that needed a solution, if such a think exists. We also didn’t set out to define the “Touch” idiom, or what is or isn’t Touch. The perspectives ranged from RFID projects to (my favorite of the weekend) investing “Positive History” into design.

Our approach to running workshops has been different for each workshop we’ve done in this series. In the first at Lift 06, we took a hands-off approach to defining topic areas to work through, and several interesting scenarios were derived. Here you can find a link to the final report. There were ideas revolving largely around the notion that objects can participate in networked social formations in meaningful ways — what are some ways that feel compelling and how are they connected to particular kinds of social practices.

In the second workshop held at EPFL shortly before Reboot, we continued some of the project themes — these were basically offered as silos into which people could divide into group-work. It worked somewhat. Some interesting ideas and and concepts evolved, including MySpaceOfThings and, my own favorite from the “Flickr Camera Blogject” group — Sascha Pohflepp started thinking about his awesome Blind Camera project.

Post-It Refrigerator Magnet Poetry

This time, Nicolas, Timo and I pondered how to get group work going. We came up with a rather ad-hoc randomizer. First, we had people fill in post-it notes to fill in four little idioms that we hoped would develop into a conceptual stew for possible group “topics”: Things, Groups, Activities, Contexts — sort of like a Mad Lib approach to coming up with conceptual starting points. A few people then went up to the post-it white board and pulled out one post-it from each silo and put them in a line on another white board. This spelled out some sort of sentence-like brief for the groups.

Configured Scenario Semantics

Wand affordances, grumpy old men, blinking beeping shaking, ???

Cell phone, people with few resources, dating, street

Balloons, Drunk People, Play, Suburbs

These were the little conceptual sentences chosen by the three groups, who then spent the first afternoon and second morning + a little time after lunch creating conceptual prototypes that sort of mapped around these sentences. Some groups spent lots of time swirling in dialogue, whereas others went fairly quickly to physical prototyping. Generally, Timo, Nicolas and I were encouraging conceptualization through physical prototyping as opposed to writing specifications or something like that. I think we’re all fairly keen on the ability to think through making, or sketching in physical form and, as a meta topic, wanted to consider how this could help the workshops.

Project Presentation

Balloon (Peer-to-Beer) Network

Moving from there, we had presentations from each group, showing the work they did and how they developed the sentences to concepts. One project showed their project as a theatrical diorama, made from cleverly cut-up polystyrene stuff made to look like a small village and pub and clay people. Another, made a RFID embedded styrofoam shoe to show how paths could be created using near-field interaction, specifically for visually impaired people. The third group created a scenario though a video prototype, explicating how their project would work through a combination of business case description and interactions.

We’ll be collaborating to summarize the workshop more completely in the near future.

Relationship amongst Things & Touch & Blogjects?
The relationship to “things”, networked interactions through circulating conversations and communication, and proximity, touch and near-field is fairly clear to me, but let me just jot it down to help remind myself. It is basically thinking through the kinds of action and ways of circulating meaning that take into account what it is we seem to do in 2nd life worlds anyway, with what is specifically characteristic of 1st life activity — movement, proximity, physical touch, mobility, the ability to generate geographic and physical semantics. Take these characteristics and the meaning-making possibilities for existing social practices that happen in 1st life and laminate that with 2nd life activities, you have a large, messy knot of possibility for near-future kinds of networked, hybrid social practices. Things, I think of as having representations in 1st life that I can Touch and that are Touching, semantically, and Touch the networks by disseminating meaningful data that can become conversational or generators of conversations. 2nd life circulates conversations very well in comparison to older ways of doing such, such as movable type, telegraphs, television, entertainment culture, etc. And the hopeful, aspirational motivation is that when 1st life and 2nd life meet, productive, life-enhancing, sustainable near-future worlds will evolve.

The submissions for the workshop participants is available here. The original call is here.

Positive History

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The Blind Camera – Sascha Pohflepp's "Buttons" Series

Ever sense Sascha started talking, quite animatedly, about this project — ” The Blind Camera — I became almost as excited as he. A camera..that takes someone else’s photo. The semantics are tricky — it doesn’t take a photograph of someone else, but take’s (as in, borrows or copies or “snags”) a photograph that someone else has captured, somewhere else in the world, at that same moment.

So cool.

I mean..that’s kind of brilliant in a playful, thoughtful way. The project captures all the amazingly promising characteristics of a world of sharing and circulating culture and experiences. And the most engaging part of the project, in my mind, is that it’s an object, a tangible camera — an actual camera – and not just a bit of code, that you can download for free or whatever, and put on your laptop to play with for a few days and then discard or foreget about. It’s an object – a physical affordance or whatever you want to call it. And that makes all the difference in the world for this project.

And another reason why I think Things that are networked matter. The idea of a general purpose computational device like your laptop has much less appeal in this regard. Or even the idea of the mobile phone being the one device you carry with you.

How, conceptually, from the perspective of design or even practicality, can we expect that this idea of one mobile device will sustain itself? There are so many things wrong with the mobile phone as an address book, for instance, or a game interface, or even as a telephone. Even the simplest of annoyances seem beyond the capabilities of the common phone to avoid. For example, how can you get people to stop shouting into their phone? People talk louder than they do when they’re just having a normal human conversation — from inside my house on a nice pedestrian street, I can hear the phone conversations of neighbors walking their dogs as if they were sitting right here in my office.

Anyway, I am very fond of the idea of a diversity of devices at our disposal, whether or not we have them all the time. A baroque assembly of various instrumentalities, one of which is a camera that takes other people’s photographs, another of which allows me to carry my online persona out into 1st Life so it can interact with other, offline objects, another that reminds me how to get where I’m going, etc. One device for everything seems positively impossible to achieve, practically or even conceptually speaking. And there’s heuristic proof out there — my Treo is great because it has QWERTY. My Treo stinks cause it has Sprint. My Treo is great because it has a decent camera. My Treo stinks cause it weighs a ton and strains the seams of my pocket. My Treo stinks cause it has Sprint. This Nokia E61 I have is great cause it has QWERTY. This Nokia E61 stinks cause it has no camera. Etc. I think it is a conceit driven by corporate avarice and design hubris that there is One Thing that will embody all the interesting things we could do in our mobile lives.

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Blogjects: Small Clarification

Once, my mentor and dissertation advisor Donna Haraway mentioned in a conversation that she wished she could better police the way her writings were taken up. I only vaguely understood what she meant at the time.

I want to make a small clarification and re-emphasis on the Blogject trope. It’s fun coming across various insights and remarks on the Blogject concept in all corners of the network, and a whole variety of conversations have developed, all of them encouraging.

I would add to these as a clarification that my wanting to think about Blogjects as something new (and please forgive my devising a bungling idiom) is a political move best described thusly: “we” (inhabitants herein of the planet) need new things to cope with (insert your epic worldly challenge here) in a new way because the old ways are not working. If you can’t find anything “technically” new with the idea of objects blogging, then please think that perhaps we need a new way to think about how we do things, and starting with a commitment to call something new, even if you’re, like..thinking — “Heck, how new could it be? I mean, there aren’t any high-financed start-ups making new sensors or academic journals publishing fresh insights from far-flung research patents or anything. What new? What’re you talking about?”

Therein lies the motivation for making new things to attempt to devise new thinking and new solutions for oldish problems that need fresh ideas and approaches. It’s not that I or anyone else has come up with new instrumentalities, or cornered some new business opportunity with a first-to-market coup.

That said, I believe firmly that there is, empirically, something new about objects nowadays in that they can potentially (so long as we don’t dismiss the ways they can help us create more habitable worlds) co-inhabit this fascinating and promising digitally networked world of social exchange that is taking place on the Internet. That social exchange is dramatically new (cf. Benkler and Jenkins), and heavy with opportunity for refashioning the world.

Example: We have never had a world in which an $18.90 sensor (in single units) coupled to an existing two-way datastream (eg General Motor’s OnStar(tm) system or, as I’m doing, a simple GSM network data transfer and a Nokia phone) can disseminate at a real-time rate (once every 30 secs or better) the content of gasoline or diesel emissions from a vehicle — and publish that in real-time to the entirety of the networked world. Aggregates of such modestly priced blogging objects would give a telling representation of how much such previously illegible and (sometimes) invisible emissions occur. That _potential_ for a simple Blogject is new. This Blogject has no Artificial Intelligence — that’s not what Blogjects are about. But, in the Latourian sense, Blogjects are social beings in that they (can) participate in conversations that matter, substantively. In this simple conversation, providing insight into something we really need to be more aware of, directly, not abstractly.

Blogjects are “only” sources of information if that is all we want from them. Websites were only sources of information once, too, until they because conversational (in a Weinberger/Searls/Locke sort of way way) and changed the way we engage in social discourse, and even had measurable, substantial effect in 1st life politics and further. We know this for a fact. The social web changed things measurably. Can objects, also participating in the same register of discourse, do likewise, and perhaps have impactful effect?

Why would we not try to make it so?

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Nordichi Workshop Call: Near Field Interactions

Workshop: Near field interactions
This is a call for proposals for a workshop on user-centred interactions with the internet of things at Nordichi 2006, October 14 and 15, 2006 in Oslo, Norway.

(Workshop papers are available here.)

The user-centred Internet of Things
The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ is a vision of the future of networked things that share a record of their interactions with context, people and other objects. The evolution of networking to include objects occupying space and moving within the physical world presents an urgent design challenge for new kinds of networked social practice. The challenge for design is to overcome the current overarching emphasis on business and technology that has largely ignored practices that fall outside of operational efficiency scenarios.

What is imminently needed is a user-centred approach to understand the physical, contextual and social relationships between people and the networked things they interact with.

The mobile device as early enabler
The mobile phone is likely to play a key role in the early adoption of the internet of things. Mobile devices offer ubiquitous networks and interfaces, enabling otherwise offline objects at the edges of the network. Near Field Communication (NFC: is a mobile technology that has been designed to integrate networked services into physical space and objects. NFC introduces a sense of ‘touch’, where interactions between devices are initiated by physical proximity.

In use, the mobile phone brings with it a history of personal and social activities and contexts. It is in this evolution that we see user-agency and social motivation emerging as an interesting area within the internet of things.

Workshop goals
In this workshop we intend to build knowledge around the hands-on problems and opportunities of designing user-centred interactions with networked objects. Through a process of ‘making things’ we will look closely at the kinds of interactions we may want to design with networked objects, and what roles the mobile phone may play in this.

We will focus on the design of simple, effective and innovative interactions between mobile phones and physical objects, rather than focusing on technical or network issues.

The primary questions for the workshop are:

What kinds of common interactions will emerge as networked objects become everyday?
What role will the mobile phone have to play in these interactions?
How do we encourage playful, experimental and exploratory use of networked things?

Some secondary questions are:

What interaction models can we bring to the internet of things? Do the fields of embodied interaction, tangible, social, ubiquitous or pervasive computing cover the required ground for designers?

What new kinds of social practices could emerge out of the possibilities presented by networked things?

How will the physical form of everyday objects and spaces be transformed by networks and near field interactions? How this would be reflected in users’ behavior?

How can the design of physical objects help in overcoming potential information or interaction overload, and how does search or findability change when in a physical context?

How can we move beyond commonsensical features such as object activation or findability?

What kind of user-communities will co-opt the technology and how will they hack, adjust and re-form it for their needs?

Workshop structure
Each workshop day will begin with a keynote presentation from invited experts. On the first day, participants will each give a short presentation of their position paper, no longer than 5 minutes.

Then groups of 3-4 people, each with different skills and backgrounds will then work on concepts, scenarios and prototypes. Prototypes may take the form of physical models, scenarios or enactments. We encourage the use of our wood, plastic and rapid prototyping workshops to create physical prototypes of selected concepts. We will provide workshop assistants for the creation of physical models.

The outcomes should be in a range of implementation styles allowing for a variety of outputs that speaks to a wide audience. A report will be written on the workshop, and published on the Touch project website and in other relevant channels.

Call for participation
The workshop is open to participants from human factors, mobile technology, social science, interaction and industrial design. Practitioners and those with industrial experience are strongly encouraged. Prior research work on embodied interaction, social and tangible computing would be particularly relevant. Participants will be selected based on their relevance to the workshop, and the overall balance of the group. Space is limited to 25 participants.

Call for short position papers
Application is by position paper no longer than two pages. The position paper can be visual or experimental in design and content. The themes should cover an issue that is relevant to the design of interactions with everyday objects.

Deadline for papers is 1 August, selected participants will be notified on the 9 August. The workshop itself is October 14 and 15, 2006.

Papers and any questions should be submitted to timo (at) elasticspace (dot) com before 1 August.

Timo Arnall is a designer and researcher at the Oslo School of Architecture & Design (AHO). Timo’s research looks at practices around ubiquitous computing in urban space. At the moment his work focuses on the personal and social use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies, looking for potential interactions with objects and city spaces through mobile devices. Previously his research looked at flyposting and stickering in public space, suggesting possible design strategies for combining physical marking and digital spatial annotation. Timo leads the research project Touch at AHO, looking at the use of mobile technology and Near Field Communication.

Julian Bleecker is a Research Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Communication and an Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Division, part of the USC School of Cinema-Television. Bleecker’s work focuses on emerging technology design, research and development, implementation, concept innovation, particularly in the areas of pervasive media, mobile media, social networks and entertainment. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in computer-human interaction. His doctoral dissertation from the University of California, Santa Cruz is on technology, entertainment and culture.

Nicolas Nova is a Ph.D. student at the CRAFT (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne) working on the CatchBob! project. His current research is directed towards the understanding of how people use location-awareness information when collaborating in mobile settings, with a peculiar focus on pervasive games. After an undergraduate degree in cognitive sciences, he completed a master in human-computer interaction and educational technologies at TECFA (University of Geneva, Switzerland). His work is at the crossroads of cognitive psychology/ergonomics and human-computer interaction; relying on those disciplines to gain better understanding of how people use technology such as mobile and ubiquitous computing.

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More Blogging Aircraft

[wikilike_img src=|align=thumb tcenter|width=500| kml track zoomed in on inbound traffic toward LAX|url=]

Sascha just IM’d this. A flight tracking operation called fboweb (dot com) has a flight tracking service. The usual — put in the flight number and airline, or a tail number, and you get the current tracks of the individual equipment as it roams the earth.

(FBO stands for fixed base operator — a general service center at an airport.)

[wikilike_img src=|align=thumb tcenter|width=500| kml track zoomed in on inbound traffic toward LAX|url=]

Now, though, they’re producing kml files so you can see the tracks in Google Earth.

Good lord. The coherence between 1st Life and 2nd Life starts to pull focus. And with structured data, to boot.

Why do I blog this?The flight tracking services, particularly the ones that create a visualization of equipment, are important because they are “weak signals” indicating how linkages between informatics, geography and the activities of social beings can be represented. These are most often designed with the purpose of helping people figure out if a flight’s late or how it’s doing. From an operations stand point, the flight centers are consuming the same data (perhaps not 60 second delayed, as this version is) to make decisions about what equipment will be where and when, and thereby how to make the particular piece of equipment contribute to production of capital profits in the most efficient manner. I’m sure they also use it to make route adjustments during times of heavy or light traffic, and so forth. These blogging behemoths are shaping business practices, no?

How can a similar configuration of networked objects blog in such a way as to inform social practices? And not just those social practices that are about operational efficiencies for businesses?

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Blogject Presentation at Reboot

Nicolas and I gave our presentation yesterday at Reboot on Blogjects. It was a lot of fun to think about how to deliver our early thinking and insights and capture the substance of the concept, and deliver some of the design thoughts developed at the workshops, and think of the ways these things tie into the many other ideas circulating around related to the participation of material objects within the network.

Nicolas has a very comprehensive post about the lead up to the talk. I won’t duplicate any of that here, he’s done a great job.

Here’s a copy of the presentation, mostly images and text, no notes.

Two insights that I’m thinking about.

1. In a way there’s some characteristic that seems to resonate with the Blogject design concepts and that’s the way they embody social practice. So the “flickr camera” tries to capture the ways in which the media sharing practices that Flickr seems to encourage become part of the designed object when we’re thinking about networked objects. That’s great, I think, in that the emphasis on the intersection of social practices and digital networks yields more than bland designed scenarios.

2. Establishing linkages between material and digital representations. This theme came up while Nicolas and I were working through some notes and became part of the presentation, although the precise thinking about how to articulate this is still really gooey. I mean, I think there’s something that’s particular about the Blogject concept that means these linkages aren’t the “plain old” way in which material becomes digitized — I think there needs to be a richer set of semantics around that that is about more than simply indexing the world of objects, and definitely not this business of material items translated into shape and form that gets fetishized in virtual worlds (a la 2nd Life or some Google Map mash-ups..more on that later.)

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TripSense – Quick Notes

TripSense. I first wrote a little bit about this about six months ago. My car insurer asked if I would plug this data recording module into the special data port on my car — that port that the mechanic plugs into when your Check Engine light comes on.

These are some quick notes based on an experiment on myself and some notes that were developed during the reboot8 conference and presentation that Nicola and I gave.

What is TripSense? It gives me my data. Weak signal for near-future Blogjects.

More than the consequence of fossil fuel consumption as seen in the correspondence between gallons and dollars.

Need to see the consequence in other terms pounds of exhausted particulates, where they are likely to go?

How many pounds, based on my driving behavior, will be exhausted by the collective of all cars along my route, based on how much fossil fuel i’ve poured into my car?

The relationship between our individual activities and their role/participation in the world s important to register — we need to know about the imbricated, intermingled cloud of consequence our activities impart upon ourselves and others.

“Objects that blog”/Blogjects are not about self-autonomous activated, robots in the wild that are there to vacuum our rooms and tell us how well they did, or give us GPS tracks about where thigns in the world are. Blogjects, in their most effective, most life-affirming mode, help us “hack” our world into a more sustainable, habitable environment in which life is precious, difference is a good thing and no consequence is inevitable. The most affirmative aspect of the “hack” is the ability to change the way things are and remix the way things will be.

There is no quick fix. This isn’t a matter of patching the world’s operating systems and seamlessly averting a global system crash. It _is_ about finding ways in which the digital networks, the participation of alternative and multivalent sources of insight, data and representations of the world can provide a renewed perspective on our activated participation in the world.

So, the Blogject is not merely a materialized instrumentality – an object that is merely disseminating measures of its activities. Blogjects are cohabitants in the world because they offer life-or-death decision points. They reflect their activities in ways that make our ears perk up.

They do so not as an engineering hack – this isn’t about the most clever use of the latest sensor technologies, or nanotech or any such. This isn’t engineering just “’cause.” In the world of DIY hacking practices, we make use of whatever is cheap, accessible, robust and easy to work with. Legibility of practice is of paramount concern. This can’t _only_ be an elite exercise, only accessible to a few people, or a specialized technical practice. This isn’t about securing a large grant and having to spend it or loose it. We need to find a way to divert the traditional practices of making things cause we can, or cause there’s a lot of grant money to spend toward a practice that is focused on the goal of averting any of a number of catastrophes immediately. Forget 5 year grant/research cycles. I’m talking about 9 month, 18 month projects.

We need to hack conventional social, business and political practices that leave no room for more habitable futures.

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