- not things, objects! Ashton writes about objects.
- people are not good at capturing data, so let’s filter (i.e. introduce a bottleneck) the data for them, thank you!
- however, people arrive to gather around ideas and to discuss despite the fact that “conventional diagrams of the Net leave out people”.
- By having public discussions around an “idea” people arrive to filter creatively the information dump without resorting to artificial bottlenecks. Non-human bottleneck stifle discussions!
- things by objects
- ideas by things.
We’re physical, and so is our environment. Our economy, society and survival aren’t based on things or information—they’re based on objects. You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Things and information are important, but objects matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about things than objects.
This looks like the credo of the Internet of Objects!
Do we want this?
2. What are, for people, things and objects?
Here is a depiction of a thing [source]:
A thing was the governing assembly made up of the free people of the community, meeting in a place called a thingstead.
(“thing” in Germanic societies, “res” for Romans, etc.)
Heidegger (The Thing):
Near to us are what we usually call things. The jug is a thing. What is a jug? We say: a vessel. As a jug, the vessel is something self-sustained, self-supporting, or independent.
An independent, self-supporting thing may become an object if we place it before us.
[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]
An object is therefore real, but all about thing and thingstead is lost.
Reification generally refers to making something real…
3. An example of a thing and some of it’s reifications:
Quotes and images from here:
On 20 May 1515, an Indian rhinoceros arrived in Lisbon from the Far East.
After a relatively fast voyage of 120 days, the rhinoceros was finally unloaded in Portugal, near the site where the Manueline Belém Tower
was under construction. The tower was later decorated with gargoyles
shaped as rhinoceros heads under its corbels
A rhinoceros had not been seen in Europe since Roman times: it had become something of a mythical beast
, occasionally conflated in bestiaries
with the “monoceros” (unicorn), so the arrival of a living example created a sensation.
The animal was examined by scholars and the curious, and letters describing the fantastic creature were sent to correspondents throughout Europe. The earliest known image of the animal illustrates a poemetto
by Florentine Giovanni Giacomo Penni
, published in Rome
on 13 July 1515, fewer than eight weeks after its arrival in Lisbon.
Valentim Fernandes, , saw the rhinoceros in Lisbon shortly after it arrived and wrote a letter describing it to a friend in Nuremberg in June 1515. A second letter of unknown authorship was sent from Lisbon to Nuremberg at around the same time, enclosing a sketch by an unknown artist. Dürer saw the second letter and sketch in Nuremberg. Without ever seeing the rhinoceros himself, Dürer made two pen and ink drawings, and then a woodcut was carved from the second drawing, the process making the print a reversed reflection of the drawing.
The German inscription on the woodcut, drawing largely from Pliny’s account, reads:
||On the first of May in the year 1513 AD [sic], the powerful King of Portugal, Manuel of Lisbon, brought such a living animal from India, called the rhinoceros. This is an accurate representation. It is the colour of a speckled tortoise, and is almost entirely covered with thick scales. It is the size of an elephant but has shorter legs and is almost invulnerable. It has a strong pointed horn on the tip of its nose, which it sharpens on stones. It is the mortal enemy of the elephant. The elephant is afraid of the rhinoceros, for, when they meet, the rhinoceros charges with its head between its front legs and rips open the elephant’s stomach, against which the elephant is unable to defend itself. The rhinoceros is so well-armed that the elephant cannot harm it. It is said that the rhinoceros is fast, impetuous and cunning.
Comment: you can see here a thing taking shape.
Despite its errors, the image remained very popular,
and was taken to be an accurate representation of a rhinoceros until the late 18th century.
The pre-eminent position of Dürer’s image and its derivatives declined from the mid-to-late-18th century, when more live rhinoceroses were transported to Europe, shown to the curious public, and depicted in more accurate representations.
Until the late 1930s, Dürer’s image appeared in school textbooks in Germany as a faithful image of the rhinoceros;
in German the Indian rhinoceros is still called the Panzernashorn
, or “armoured rhinoceros”. It remains a powerful artistic influence, and was the inspiration for Salvador Dalí
‘s 1956 sculpture, Rinoceronte vestido con puntillas
(Rhinoceros dressed in lace), which has been displayed at Puerto Banús
, in Marbella
, since 2004.
Comment: that is an object! You can stick an RFID to it and it has clear GPS coordinates.
4. Bruno Latour (From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik, or How to Make Things Public), writing about “object-oriented democracy”:
Who is to be concerned? What is to be considered? How to represent the sites where people meet to discuss their matters of concern?
How does the Internet of Objects respond to these questions about things and thingsteads?
People are going to use the Internet of Objects as an Internet of Things. How can we help them (us!) by designing a thing-friendly Internet of Things?
My guess and proposal is to try to put space (i.e. thingstead) into the IoT. By design.
5. Not the RFID space. Not the GPS space. This may be useful for the goal of inhuman optimization, but will not promote by itself the conversation needed to have around things and their reifications, the objects.
People are going to divert the ways of the IoT, designed with this lack of appetite for human communication, as they succeeded previously!
For understanding why RFID and GPS are not sufficient, let’s imagine, like Borges, that the world is a library.
- RFID – name of the book
- GPS – place on the shelf
Is this enough for me, reader, who wants to retrieve (and discuss with other readers about) a book without knowing it’s title, nor it’s position on a shelf?
No! I have to call a librarian (the bottleneck), an inhuman and very efficient one, true, who will give me a list of possible titles and who will fetch the book from the right shelf. I don’t have direct access to the library, nor my friends which may have different ideas about the possible titles and shelves where the book might be.
The librarian will optimize the book-searching and book-fetching, will optimize all this not for me, or for you, or for our friends, but for a bayesian individual in a bayesian society. (see Bayesian society
What I would like is to have access to my library (in the big Universal Library) and to be able to share my spatial competences of using my library with my friends. That means a solution for the following problem, which Mark Changizi mentions in relation to e-books (but I think is relevant instead for the human IoT)
The Problem With the Web and E-Books Is That There’s No Space for Them
My personal library serves as extension of my brain. I may have read all my books, but I don’t remember most of the information. What I remember is where in my library my knowledge sits, and I can look it up when I need it. But I can only look it up because my books are geographically arranged in a fixed spatial organization, with visual landmarks. I need to take the integral of an arctangent? Then I need my Table of Integrals book, and that’s in the left bookshelf, upper middle, adjacent to the large, colorful Intro Calculus book.
6. What else? These notes are already rich enough, therefore please be free to stop reading, if you feel like.
Actually, this is a technical problem: how to create space where there is none, without using arbitrary names (RFID) or global (but arbitrary) coordinates (GPS)?
It is the same problem which we encounter in neuroscience: how the brain makes sense of space without using any external geometrical expertise? how to explain the “brain as a geometry engine” (as Koenderink
) when there is no rigorous model of computation for this brain behaviour?
There may be a point in holding that many of the better-known brain processes are most easily understood in terms of differential geometrical calculations running on massively parallel processor arrays whose nodes can be understood quite directly in terms of multilinear operators (vectors, tensors, etc).
In this view brain processes in fact are space.
I have two proposals for this, which go far beyond explanations which may fit into a post. I put them here only for the sake of giving an explanation of the motivations I have, and maybe for inviting the interested people to gather for discussing about these things.
It is about “computing with space”, which is the middle name of this blog. The first name, chorasimilarity, is made by gluing Plato’s notion of space “chora” with (self-)”similarity”, which is, I believe the essence of transforming space from a “vessel” into a self-sustaining, self-supporting thingstead.
The first proposal is to concentrate on completely asynchronous, purely local models of distributing computing as a low-level basis for the architecture of a true IoT.
I know of only one model of computation which satisfy the previously mentioned demands and also solves the problem of putting space into the Net:
It is based on actors which gather in an agora to discuss things that matter. Literally!
But there is long way to arrive to a proof of principle, at least, for such a space-rich IoT, which brings me to the second proposal,
which (may) be too technical for this post, alluded here: A me for space