Critically Making the Internet of Things, Session I

Notes taken in real-time and subject to my brain’s filtering mechanisms. My comments in italics.

Matt Ratto

Critical Making: “A mode of materially productive engagement that is intended to bridge the gap between creative, physical and conceptual exploration.”

By way of background, Matt talked about his classes and an assignment in which students are asked to make a “moral technology” and explain what makes it moral. For example, one project was a box that screamed unless/until it was petted. The students said they couldn’t make a moral technology, but they could make something that encouraged moral behaviour. Another worked with traffic signals, which are moral because they already regulate behaviour through the social contract.

To ask why we need to “critically make” the Internet of Things, we might start by asking “What is the IoT?”

Technical definition: instrumentation of the physical world

Temporal definition: when interconnected devices out-number interconnected people

Socio-technical definition: increasing blurring of the line between the digital and the physical modes of engagement in the world

So why do we need a critical perspective? Because we need to come up with alternatives to continuing the rationalisation of the world, or offering a false return to a romantic past.

Yes.

Bruce Sterling

* pretty much impossible to take notes but…

“All the gloss of wonder gets scraped off” when the dreams of science fiction become real and commercialised. But also, why is the design in science fiction so bad?

Theory Object for Anticonventional Products

Design fiction instead. See Postscapes’ Best Design Fiction 2011.

But what about real products? What science fiction can’t do.

RFID + Superglue + Object ≠ IoT

“It’s easy to be bewitched by the apparent beauty and logic of this. But the map is not the territory.”

Design fiction is a form of design, not fiction.

Lisa Gitelman

*even harder to take notes because of the extraordinary detail and precise language; would be very nice to read a transcript. excellent talk.

Paper is the Thing of Things. What if today’s electronic networks were understood as made of paper?

Telegraphs, as sending and receiving devices, gave printed words back to the person who said them as well as to the recipient. Reminds me of BERG’s Little Printer. Morse’s original idea was to replace each word with a number, leaving only proper nouns.

But telegraphy was never domesticated. It remained a logic of differentiation and expertise.

Looking at telephone, electricity, etc. poles as carriers of paper notices, we can see (the) technology grabbed by the “wrong end.”

Staples as hardware. Posted by unseen hands. An un-archive. Between storage and transmission. Poles surrounded by street trees in counter-point. De-natured nature, enabling infrastructure. Communications smuggled into public. Illegal communication. Owners and others. Stapled leaflets as electrical communications. Multiple copies. The proximal logic of here (Will Straw). “Hello World.”

Lots here.

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