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Matthias Wagler

11.08.2009

Lab Talk: The next web and the new Ecology of Things

We’re currently having a deeper look at the Internet of Things (enter your favorite buzzword here) phenomenon. Meanwhile we prefer using the term new ecology of things (shaped by the Media Design Program @ Art Center College of Design) when talking about this subject. Because ecology is not just about things; it describes a shared ecosystem – a shared space where both, humans and things meet and interact.

We used our latest Friday’s lab time to share our current insights and findings with the whole team. To get things rolling we introduced some special guests. We had a look at two interesting talks of Tim Berners Lee and Rafi Haladjian. Secondly we also had a look at some of our recent findings to get the conversation started. I’ll try to sum things up a bit and share some of my random thoughts that came to my mind during our discussion.

It’s happening right now

What was very important for all of the team members was the ethic side of this story (‚All these objects saving all my data. Being connected with everything all the time. How will this affect my life? ‚). But I’d like to point out that this is not about specific kind of technology which is ‚good‘ or ‚evil‘. It’s currently more like a grass roots approach that is happening right now. So just like electricity is a commodity right now, smart objects will become a commodity in the future.

Design is important: Let’s create a human IoT

In my opinion one of the most important questions that needs to be tackled is ‚How can this technology be used to simplify? To improve? To enable new kind of rich interactions?‘ And I have to say that I’m pretty thrilled about the possibilities.

As a designer you can use this technology to enable more human interactions. Getting people away from the screen and letting them interact with smart, connected, physical objects is a great opportunity that’s made possible by this ’new ecology‘.

Interaction Design will change

The field of interaction design will heavily be affected by these trends. Cause it’s not just about designing communication between a human and a single screen. It’s about designing interactions between humans and huge set of smart objects. And it’s about designing intelligent filters for the huge data sets that are being collected by them.

Great opportunities for our clients

We think the Internet of Things will enable great business opportunities for all of our clients and partners. So it’s not a big surprise that we’ll keep on tackling this subject and digging deeper into the world of interconnected things.

So let’s finish this post with two quotes of John Thackara that fit quite nice into this context and came to my mind during the discussion:

„We cherish the fact that people are innately curious, playful and creative. We therefore suspect that technology is not going to go away: it’s too much fun.“

„We will deliver value to people – not deliver people to systems. We will give priority to human agency, and will not treat humans as a ‚factor‘ in some bigger picture.“