April 7, 2006

the internet of people, places and things and various other stuff

This term "the Internet of Things" has been making the rounds for quite awhile now. It's a catchy phrase that refers to objects in the physical world becoming first class citizens of the Net, either through direct connection or via some sort of physical hyperlink like a visual code or RFID tag. I'm all for it, you know. But I don't like the term, because it's only half right which is I guess better than not right at all but still it misses half the point. See?

One thing I don't get is why Things have such a privileged status as to deserve their own Internet, as compared to People and Places. Or Dogs. Or Songs. Or identifiable Entities in general, really, because that's what we are going on about here, right? Yes, we are busily bridging the physical and digital worlds, and at the asymptote everything will be connected or linked to everything else through the Net. So maybe we should call it the Internet of Everything? Of course at that point you should say that Everything is logically implied and we might just as well call it the Internet ;-)

Anyway, shouldn't it be a kiss of some fateful kind, that we now have this ITU special report, "The Internet of Things"?

Written by a team of analysts from the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) of the ITU, the report takes a look at the next step in "always on" communications, in which new technologies like RFID and smart computing promise a world of networked and interconnected devices that provide relevant content and information whatever the location of the user. Everything from tires to toothbrushes will be in communications range, heralding the dawn of a new era, one in which today's Internet (of data and people) gives way to tomorrow's Internet of Things.

SPU, is that pronounced "spoo"? Smart toothbrushes, wow, we've come a long way from personal jet packs, haven't we? God, I'm feeling so snarky here, I'm sorry folks, must be that DC miasma poisoning my brainz. It's just that I thought we went through all of this years ago. Guess I'm getting ubi-burnout.

So I dunno, it would sure be good to have a handy term to describe this situation where so many new sensing, hardware, software, networking, and media technologies are maturing simultaneously and fomenting this immense upwelling of connectedness, creativity and worry. But I'm sure not calling it the Internet of Things. It just tastes wrong.

Posted by Gene at April 7, 2006 6:07 PM