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How to design a ‘social’ internet of things?

Sogeti Labs
March 25, 2013

Things that talk, but how? The internet of things is going to provide us with a whole new data stream. But how will these things ‘communicate’ with us? And how can Twitter and Facebook help us in this case? I have already written some blogs on this topic. In one of them I suggested that apps might be the way to go. in another one I suggested a Facebook for things based on the startup Evrythng, that wants to provide identity management tools for the internet of things. When it comes to the internet of things we talk a lot about infrastructure. Consider this the sensors and the connectivity part of the puzzle with topics such as the IP addresses that everyday objects will need to have. To me the most interesting part is the software ecosystem that will live on top of that infrastructure. A video from Ericsson combines the idea of a mobile devices and a social feed from your connected devices (there is also a part 2) I think the video is a bit scary. On the hand it’s cool that these things have somewhat of a character; this is important for these ‘virtual assistants’, Apple had a opening for a developer for Siri to give her more ‘character’ as well. The scary part to me is the amount of information (overload) that will join the many flows of information I am already digesting on a daily basis. There are two main concerns if you ask me. The first is a privacy issue that  describes perfectly in a post for RWW:

Every time we connect another one of our household appliances to the Internet, we’re going to be generating another set of data about our lives and storing it some company’s servers. That data can be incredibly useful to us, but it creates yet another digital trail of personal details that could become vulnerable to court subpoenas, law enforcement requests (with or without a warrant) or hackers.
The second concern is the size and immediacy of the new data flow. How will we digest it?  Will algorithms arrange our news feed from our devices just as the ‘Top Stories-Algorithms’ on Facebook? Or will we have a more ‘unfiltered’ Twitter-like stream based on the devices we ‘follow’? I would like both actually. The Twitter-approach for when I’am at home, the Facebook-approach for on the road. How do you feel about this? Any suggestions for how to design the social web of things?

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SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


    One thought on “How to design a ‘social’ internet of things?

    1. There’s a lot of thought in the IA/UX design community already. For starters, I’d recommend reading up on Ban Bashford’s thinking: and following through a couple of references.
      I don’t think approaches chosen by current “Social Networks” will necessarily turn out to be appropriate, as interaction with objects is fundamentally different than social interaction.

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