This is a conversation on the Internet of Things I recorded with my colleague Chris Moore as part of his podcasted lecture series on cyberculture. As interviews go this is quite organic, without a set script of questions and answers, hence the rambling style and side-stories. Among others, I discuss: the Amazon Echo [Alexa], enchanted objects, Mark Weiser and ubiquitous computing, smart clothes, surveillance, AI, technology-induced shifts in perception, speculative futurism, and paradigm shifts.
I am working with a team researching the networking of carbon-nanotube [CNT] woven garments, and recently we published a position paper on the concepts of smart fabrics and networked clothing. We are interested in developing a coherent conceptual framework for what is, arguably, a paradigmatic shift in networking technologies, physically bringing human bodies online.
A couple of years after Snowden there is already a noticeable stratification into three distinct groups in terms of access to real anonymity online:
1] Most people access the net through a layer of zero anonymity or pseudo anonymity at best, and their destination online is either not anonymous or actively trying to pry away private data from them;
2] A small percentage access the net through a layer of high anonymity [i.e. VPN, TOR] and their destination may be somewhat anonymous [i.e. members only forums, or TOR sites];
3] An even smaller percentage access a completely different and highly anonymous network [i.e. I2P] through an anonymous layer, and their destination is equally highly anonymized.
Groups 2 and 3 are mostly not going to be affected by any government efforts to regulate or remove anonymity, but ironically it is only those two groups who have the will and know-how to defend anonymity.
Prezi from a lecture examining the influence of information networks on organisations and labour practices. To illustrate both dynamic, I am using notions such as network coordination and transaction costs, Mard Deuze’s notion of liquid labour, Norbert Wiener’s description of the feedback loop, and more importantly John Boyd’s OODA loop as a visualization of the way networks maintain themselves and coordinate the flow of information. The argument of course is that to understand the changes of organisational and labour practices one needs to understand the way networks deal with adversity (coordination and transaction costs); similarly, one has to understand how the length of the feedback loop inevitably leads to decentralization and decision making at the nodal level (Boyd). Crucially, references to sociological favorites such as ‘capitalism’, ‘power’, ‘the social’ are rendered irrelevant.
Prezi from a lecture on utopian narratives of global communication, tracing the roots of cyber-utopianism from the revolutionary influence of the telegraph, to personal computers and the technical architecture of the internet. The telegraph brought the metaphor of communication networks as nervous system, a metaphor also linking the separation of information from carrier to the separation of mind from body. These tropes are still with us more than 150 years later.
Well, the time for leisure, travel, reading, and research is over – back to lectures, tutorials, and endless admin. Below are the slides for my first lecture for this session, tracing an outline of the history of communication networks over the last 150 years. A hasty trip from telegraphy to the internet, with an emphasis on the notion of information networks as a nervous system spanning space.