Who is Empowered? Ourselves or the ‘Things’?

What if I told you that you could use the internet to track your elderly grandmother’s movements to ensure that she was alive and well? Or that you’re near-full garbage bin could signal to the garbage depot that it’s time to stop by for a collection? What if you’d forgotten to take your daily medication and a sensor in the bottle itself could send you a friendly text as a reminder? To me, these applications of technology seem like an odd combination of the Truman Show and sci-fi madness, when in reality these particular connections already exist.

These relationships rely on what has been termed the ‘Internet of Things’, where internet connections are bringing previously passive objects to life through the use of networked sensors and RFID tags. Bleecker (2006) refers to these connected objects as Blogjects – blogging objects – and suggests that once the objects are connected to the internet, they become enrolled as active participants contributing to social exchange and conversation.

In a society alarmed by the marketing data collection of platforms such as Facebook, we can be assured that the internet of things is at the heart of privacy and security concerns.

With these networked sensors and tags already finding their way into cars, household appliances and clothing for tracking and monitoring purposes, consider what digital footprints are being left behind by consumers. As Bleecker (2006) puts it ‘where our blogjects go, someone always knows’.

No longer will it simply be our age, postcode, and comparably trivial private information that is available as data, it will be our travel routes and destinations, the time we leave for work and arrive home, what we have for dinner, when, with whom and so on and so forth.

So what happens if this data falls into the wrong hands? What happens when the human population begins to behave differently when our every move is being monitored by physical objects in our homes, in public and out of our direct control? Who exactly are we empowering by these connections, ourselves or the ‘things’?

References:

Bleecker, J 2006, ‘Why Things Matter’, A Manifesto for Networked Objects

 

A Battle of Philosophies: Why Android Will Triumph Over iOs

The battle between the two futures of the mobile net is raging and echoes the PC war of the 1990’s. As mobile connectivity is set to take precedence over desktop connectivity, this current battle is of equal importance. Call it what you will – it is the wage of war between Apple and Google or iOs and Android.

 

Personally, the choice between the two adversaries is not an easy one and the two dissimilar products feel so equal and adequate in terms of benefits and appeal.

In the final quarter of 2012, Android had secured 70% share of global smartphone sales, versus 21% for iOs. In statistics surrounding tablet choice however, iOs took the lead in 2012 with 53% share, leaving Android trailing close behind at 42% (McCracken 2013).

The battle between the two comes down to the contention of their creators’ philosophies. Steve Jobs created Apple with his core business model being based upon closed devices. Apple wanted control over not only the platform itself, but also the platform’s content and the consumer’s use of it.

Co-founder of Google, Larry Page, had a different plan. Through the purchase of Android, the company’s core products emphasized the flow of information and connectivity. Users could not only alter their devices how they saw fit, they could write their own software, using technologies in unpredictable new ways. With such connectivity and freedom, Android’s benefits are undeniably clear in an increasingly connected world.

So who will triumph? If current consumer statistics are anything to draw from, the future of mobile connectivity points to open and generative Android platforms. Perhaps we should consider the opposite occurring – a public shift towards iOs based on ease of use and aesthetics, leaving Android to the gamers and tech geek developers. It’s likely that Google will triumph in either situation. Why? For those consumers that opt for iOs, Google’s search engine is still likely to be their first point of call and as Daniel Roth (2008) explains, ‘if the only thing Android achieves is getting more people to spend more time online, then Google still profits. More users mean more people viewing pages with Google ads’.

Without a change in ideology, the longevity of iOs looks bleak. Put so eloquently by Derrick Brown (2013), ‘Android seems to be growing into the worm that eats the Apple’s core’.

References:

Brown, D 2013, The Epic Battle Between Apple & Google is All But Over – Who Won?, Read Write, weblog post, 17 May, viewed 20 October 2013.

McCracken, H 2013, Who’s Winning? iOs or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place, Time, weblog post, 16 April, viewed 20 October 2013.

Roth, D 2008, ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’, Wired, 23 June, viewed 18 October 2013.