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30 Jan

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Essential writing from 2016

January 30, 2017 | By |

As 2017 is picking up steam and (especially under the ThingsCon banner) we’re working to make it a pivotal year for the creation of a responsible & human-centric internet of things (IoT), it’s worth having a look back at some of last year’s writing output.

Specifically I wrote, or helped write, a number of pieces on a range of topics that I hope will be relevant for a while to come.

Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home
Co-authored with Michelle Thorne. Second edition, July 2016.
The second edition of our ebook, fully revised and updated. It’s about designing connected homes in a way that’s great to live in, about the opportunities and challenges inherent in data-driven homes, and about the deeper questions we should ask ourselves when connecting our homes. Available at theconnectedhome.org, in a somewhat shortened, serialized version on Medium (starting here), and on the Kindle Store in a Kindle-optimized version.

Smart cities in the 21st century: Humanity on the move: The transformative power of cities
Co-authored with Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber. April 2016.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Bieber and I were kindly asked to contribute some research and policy recommendations for a larger report for the German federal government around the role of cities and urbanization in the 21st century. The report is called “Humanity on the move: The transformative power of cities” (Der Umzug der Menschheit: Die transformative Kraft der Städte) and published through WBGU, the German Advisory Council for Global Change. You can find an English-language executive summary, some background, and all the links to the full documents (DE) are in this blog post.

Shenzhen: View Source
November 2016.
As part of a fact-finding and research trip we gathered a small alliance around open and responsible IoT (I was wearing my ThingsCon hat) and visited Shenzhen, China, where the majority of connected products are made for the rest of the world. It was a remarkable whirlwind experience. Here’s a series of blog posts of write-up. We’ll be back in Shenzhen for a larger ThingsCon event in April 2017.

Also, a shout-out to a report that Michelle Thorne, head of Mozilla’s Open IoT Studio (and full disclosure, my wife) co-wrote: We all live in the computer now. A NetGain paper on society, philanthropy and the Internet of Things (PDF). I was not involved in this report in any way, but it does touch on a few of the core themes we also tackle with ThingsCon and is full of great examples of the good and bad of IoT.

You can find a list of interviews, articles, and other publications at thewavingcat.com/media.

07 Nov

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#Homelab Kitchen at Mozfest

November 7, 2015 | By |

At this year’s Mozfest, Alexandra (designswarm) and I teamed up and, with support from the excellent Marcel & Harm (The Incredible Machine) joined the BBC R&D Homelab with #homelabkitchen, creating our own kitchen area at Mozfest’s Global Village. I was wearing the ThingsCon hat mostly, whereas Marcel & Harm focused on the IoT Manifesto and how to apply the insights to the kitchen in particular.

We set it up as a series of workshops to explore questions around domesticity, gender roles, and overall needs around a 21st century home and kitchen.

We also used the occasion to launch thegoodhome.org, where we’ll continue to explore these quesitions.

Below, some impressions from day 1.

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20 Oct

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Understanding the Connected Home: Shared connected objects

October 20, 2015 | By |

This blog post is an excerpt from Understanding the Connected Home, an ongoing exploration on the implications of connectivity on our living spaces. (Show all posts on this blog.) The whole collection is available as a (free) ebook: Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home

As anyone who’s lived in a shared household can attest, there will be objects that you share with others.

Be it the TV remote, a book, the dining room table, or even the dishes, the connected home will not doubt be filled with objects that will be used by multiple people, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes even without the owner’s permission.

On the whole, you find wealth much more in use than in ownership. — Aristotle

Rival vs. non-rival goods

What will these shared, connected objects be like? What characteristics will define them?

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19 Oct

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The 1926 Frankurt kitchen and what connected kitchens can learn from it

October 19, 2015 | By |

In 1926, Austrian arthitect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky designed the Frankfurt kitchen [Wikipedia], a kitchen concept aiming to be affordable and enable efficient work.

Image: Frankfurt Kitchen (Wikimedia Commons)

It was considerate, well designed. Groundbreaking in many ways, and influential in some. It made great use of space, brought high quality and top design to people at very affordable price levels. (About 10,000 units were installed in Frankfurt at the time.) All great, right?

But people struggled using it. And that’s where we can learn something for the connected kitchen.

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05 Oct

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Understanding the Connected Home: Augmentation not Automation

October 5, 2015 | By |

This blog post is an excerpt from Understanding the Connected Home, an ongoing exploration on the implications of connectivity on our living spaces. (Show all posts on this blog.) The whole collection is available as a (free) ebook: Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home

A pioneer in human-machine interfaces and a solver of unusual problems, Doug Engelbart – inventor of the computer mouse, among other things – had a mantra: augmentation not automation.

Engelbart’s work focused on the human intellect and how to improve it. Yet, his framework conceptual for augmenting the human intellect can guide our exploration of the connected home, too.

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23 Sep

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Understanding the Connected Home: Etiquette

September 23, 2015 | By |

This blog post is an excerpt from Understanding the Connected Home, an ongoing exploration on the implications of connectivity on our living spaces. The whole collection is available as a (free) ebook: Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home

Being a house guest and host in a connected home will of course in many ways be similar to how humans have socialized for centuries.

But there will also be aspects that are new, or that need to be negotiated. What might that look like?

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22 Sep

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Understanding the Connected Home: Different kinds of things

September 22, 2015 | By |

This blog post is an excerpt from Understanding the Connected Home, an ongoing exploration on the implications of connectivity on our living spaces. The whole collection is available as a (free) ebook: Understanding the Connected Home: Thoughts on living in tomorrow’s connected home

The home is full of things that fall into various categories: furniture, lamps, appliances, gadgets, etc. For the connected home, we might need to re-examine these categories.

Which categorization scheme might lead us to interesting insights? Let’s explore a few.

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