smart or feel

smart or feel

“There are many realities. There is no single world. There are many worlds, and they all run parallel to one another, worlds and anti-worlds, worlds and shadow-worlds, and each world is dreamed or imagined or written by someone in another world. “
Paul Auster, Man in the Dark

While my first article here originated from several more theoretically oriented issues concerning the iot and the built environment, it should be obvious that theory only will not provide the solutions needed to really achieve understanding, let alone real practical progress. When summarizing the Onlife Initiative discussion in 2013 it was chairman Luciano Floridi who stated that ‘we should write a Manifesto for mum’ ; illustrating that the Manifesto as discussed that day in July needed a transformation that would make it more accessible for the average citizen. The subtitle of the Manifesto – ‘Being Human in a Hyperconnected Era’ – points to the place and role of humans in a framework that increasingly becomes a mix of bits and atoms, of the digital and the analog, of the real and the virtual. Floridi again, later in his recent book: “the infosphere is progressively absorbing any other space”.(Florida, 2014) This, I would add, includes the ontology of the built environment, as discussed in my former article.

So far the development of much technology has an emphasis on technology as such; the issue as to what is/was the original problem is to often overlooked in the process of creating a solution with technological means where this is/will not always be the first need or most adequate. The speed in which our complex world-in-transition develops affects in particular those areas which need a more thoughtful approach. The Internet of Things may connect objects to the internet, but our world – or lived space – does not exist by the presence of objects only.

Recently Daniela Perlmutter from Essence wrote in RCRWireless: ‘the Smart Home vs Reality’ and stated:
Thus far, with all the advances made on the technology side of things, a disturbing chasm has developed between the promise of the smart home and the reality.
She ends with the following conclusion:
Once the industry has the entire value chain moving in the same direction – valuable service and the right service providers, together with products that support it – uptake of smart home systems should close the adoption gap and realize its undoubted promise.”
Also, in a recent white paper called “Why is the so-called Smart World still So Stupid?” it is stated that: “smart homes are innovating much slower than smart cars.”
Here again the comparison is made with a car; we tend to forget however that a car is made for some 15 years and used per individual for some 5 years; a house is made for some 70 years and used per individual an average of some 7 years. Next to that a car is an industrial serial product, while a house – so far – to a large extend is not. Also; a bit simplified: a car is meant to get the driver from a to b, a house – and most certainly a home – is quite another, also more abstract issue. A home is about memories, feeling protected/free, is a basis for social life, for eating, sleeping, dreaming, etc. All these issues have little or nothing to do with technology and/or automation. That does not imply that there are not enhancing and/or supporting roles/functions for technology; but as long as we emphasize the (role of) technology and dismiss the concept, i.e. what is/should be the result of ‘technology’ we fail to recognize human values. To often we are presented with a home-world in which we cannot be late, we cannot forget; we are being monitored and informed from the moment we wake up. These visions present an imaginative – and by the industry wishful – world in which our homes, and therefore our lives within, are monitored/controlled by technology. It believe it should be the opposite.
The article in RCR referred to the industry and service-providers. An important part of that industry – i.e. the building industry – should indeed “move in the same direction” , but not to to create a built world of control but a built environment which emphasizes and facilitates experience, feelings. The industry should provide a house as a concept; ready to be linked, adapted, personalized. In the words of Kas Oosterhuis: “we must see all objects, including the ‘I’ and individual building components, as actors, as active players in a parametric world.” (Oosterhuis, 2011)
The white paper mentioned in SmartGridNews concludes: “smart homes and smart cars will both need to catch up for the smart city of the future to become a reality.” That sounds much like a reversal of events: as long as the citizen is/feels no part of his/her ‘smart-city’ the home most certainly is not.

20 years ago it was Marcos Novak who concluded: “We already inhabit an invisible world of shapes, an architecture of latent information that is modulated by our every breath and transmission. The shapes are definite, and with the right tools of sampling and visualization, can be seen, captured, and, if so desired manufactured.” (Novak, Transmitting Architecture, 1996)

martin pot,
Rotterdam, April 17th.,2015

this article was published in Meet-IoT, nr. 9, April 21, 2015.