Internet of things not internet of objects

What is a thing? And what is that “thing” thing from the “Internet of things”? Is not, I think, what is supposed to be.

Here is a depiction of a thing [source]:


A thing is an assembly, a communication based entity. I learned this by reading another excellent article by Kenneth Olwig: “Heidegger, Latour and The Reification of Things:The Inversion and Spatial Enclosure of the Substantive Landscape of Things – the Lake District Case”, Geografiska Annaler: Series B 2013 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography.  Cite from the 1st page:

Thing has thus undergone a process by which things went from being substantive judicially founded meetings in which knowing people assembled (as in parliaments) to discuss, and thereby constitute matters of common concern, or common things that matter, to becoming physical objects, or things as matter. […]

The word reification is here used to mean: ‘to regard (something abstract) as a material or concrete thing’ (Merriam-Webster 1994, reification). The modern meaning of things and landscape, it will be argued, can only be grasped by understanding the way it is the outcome of a process of revolutionary inversion […], or turning inside–out, by which the meaning of common things has been spatialized, enclosed, unified, individualized, privatized, materialized and reified as a constituent of the mental landscape of modernity.

Reification of a thing is an object. Btw, this seems to be a different notion of object than the one of Peirce, see here (and feel free to contradict me).

Let’s go now to Kevin Ashton’s That ‘Internet of things’ thing, cite:

We’re physical, and so is our environment. Our economy, society and survival aren’t based on ideas or information—they’re based on things. You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things.
Yes, the human world is based on things, but Ashton seems to think is based on objects. And then the Internet of things is that thing obtained by bringing back to objects what they lack: communication. But we don’t know how to do this, because we distrust communication, historically. Look for example at how communication is seen: as a process of sending a message through a channel.
We need more, we need things back, we need to think about things, not objects.About communication, not about computing.

4 thoughts on “Internet of things not internet of objects”

  1. So can we say that a “thing” is a mental/logical construct that when allowed to communicate/interact with other “things” becomes an “object”? If yes, then we can affirm that a “reality” is a collection of interacting things!

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