April 7, 2006

things that matter

So much catching up to do...for instance this Manifesto for Networked Objects by Julian Bleecker. It's quite nice. I started out a bit skeptical (there's that Internet of Things thing again). I rather liked the discussion of blogjects, I think it's a felicitous coinage even though I might argue that blogging is too narrow a niche to confine ourselves in, maybe some more on that later. But the hook that snagged me and reeled me in was this last bit, on the significance of it all:

The important aspect of the Internet of Things is not that Arphids and data transponders are now connected onto the Internet. The significance of the Internet of Things is not at all about instrumented machine-to-machine communication, or sensors that spew reams of data credit card transactions, or quantities of water flows, or records of how many vehicles passed a particular checkpoint along a highway. Those sensor-based things are lifeless, asocial recording instruments when placed alongside of the Blogject.

Just like the motivation of the “alpha” blogger, the character of the motivated Blogject is to make, disseminate and enhance meaning, to draw attention and to be assertive. Like the alpha blogger, the Blogject enters into conversations that yield consequences. It's not at all interesting to have my car “blog” routine things such as the routes I've driven, its time-average fuel consumption, or the street address of a restaurant I've just passed that has a menu that would appeal to my palette based on previous restaurant experiences. It is much more consequential, and much more assertive of a first-class participant in the network of social discourse for flocks of vehicles to provide macro-scale insights into how much fuel is consumed hourly on Interstate 405 in the Los Angeles basin, or how many tons of pollutants are exhausted into the atmosphere every hour.


What if our RSS aggregators could tune into feeds from Amazonian forest and the daily clear-cut blog? Or critter cam video blogs that show us how really nasty seal bulls can be to their pups when they're not playing their circus act at Sea World. And video blogs from schools of dolphins and whales that will make it increasingly difficult to ignore the plumes of toxins in the oceans and the slaughter of their kin by whalers and felonious fishing fleets.

End to end, one of the best rants I've seen on how all this ubi-stuff could usefully make a better world.

Posted by Gene at April 7, 2006 7:14 PM