Internet of Things StatusThis was my new years prediction this year (sorry for the typo). Then on January 4, 2013 the MIT Technology Review published a blog post announcing the same thing (I would like to point out that I beat them to it by 3 days…).

The Internet of Things is not an entirely new concept. The term was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton in 1999. It is basically the idea that all of your things (home, car, appliances, memex devices, etc…) will be “connected” via the  internet. The will then “talk” to one another independent of human interaction.

If you go to the grocery store, for example, your refrigerator could compile a list that know you are out of milk and running low on ketchup. This idea could obviously go a lot further down the line of automation. The food could be collected and delivered to your house automatically in specifically designed refrigerated driverless cars and left on your porch (or in something akin to a P.O. box in the city) in secure refrigerated units like the milkman from days of yore (only with a cooler paint job).

There are advantages well beyond a simple time savings for the consumer. There would no longer have to be ridiculous expanses of parking lots which generate a tremendous amount of heat gain and could be better utilized as green spaces. The environmental cost of transporting food to homes could be reduced by optimizing delivery routes. The stores could more appropriately stock foods with real time inventory and tracking of consumer demands over time reducing the need for excessive preservatives. There could be dynamic pricing in lieu of sales. I am sure the list could go on (but I don’t know enough about grocery stores). The grocery stores could potentially be constructed vertically since they would no longer require total human accessibility.

In theory this could lead to more awareness of food origin because it could be tracked and even have the travel distance from farm listed for consumers to make informed decisions about their food. Hopefully developing an open grocery platform would prevent the “McDonaldization” of the market.

Everything will be connected whether it is grocery stores, lists, and consumers or doctors, medical, pharmacists, and patients.

This concept goes wonderfully with the idea of interwingularity. The term coined by Ted Nelson in his book Computer Lib/Dream Machines in which he says

EVERYTHING IS DEEPLY INTERTWINGLED. In an important sense there are no “subjects” at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly.

We have seen this concept manifesting in the increase of “interdisciplinary” or “cross-disciplinary” majors at colleges and universities. Virginia Tech has developed an Integrated Science Curriculum which, it seems, is acknowledging this reality of our world (though it is only interdisciplinary within the sciences). They are recognizing the world is not as segregated as the labels we love to give to things.

We have taken much of the world apart in the last few decades, defining and distinguishing constituent parts. After we take the world apart

we must begin to put it back together. Putting it back together is the way we learn how the parts interact. Just like ants are individually very unintelligent, together they are able to accomplish highly complex tasks.



About Adam

I am an architecture undergrad @ Virginia Tech with an interest in emergent and interactive design.
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