Mapping Emotions with the Internet of Things

By Sophie Curtis on February 24, 2015

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Christian Nold is an artist, designer and researcher working to develop new participatory models and technologies for communal representation. In the last decade he has set up large scale research projects with thousands of people across the world, including creating mapped emotions for San Francisco and Greenwich, mapping change for sustainable communities, and researching the use of mobile phones in education.

At the Internet of Things Summit, London, Christian will present a snapshot of a long term ethnography of participatory environmental sensing technologies. Through this research, the Internet of Things emerges as never finished and in a continuous process of being re-designed and re-used by a broad range of stakeholders.

We caught up with Christian ahead of the summit next month, to discuss his thoughts on future progress of the Internet of Things:

What do you feel are the leading factors enabling advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT)?
I think IoT is being driven by a variety of visions of the future and technology. Some see it as an opportunity for developing a grass roots version of technology that is similar to the internet as it once used to be. Others view it as a means of excreting more centralised control and minimising local difference. I think these visions are in conflict but are both driving their own flavours of IoT forward.

Which industries do you think will be disrupted by IoT in the future?
I think everybody's lives are already being disrupted by IoT. The point is the current technology development has to be more accountable so that people can exert more influence about the shape of this present. This accountability cannot come though traditional political structures so we will have to develop new ways for people to actively participate in developing their own technologies.



What is currently being developed in your field that will be essential to future progress?
I think from the position of academia, we can trace the narratives that are shaping IoT and try to expand the diversity of narratives. The key is directing the processes though which these narratives become material entities that shape our world.

Which areas do you feel could benefit from cross-industry collaboration?
I think setting up situations where a diversity of IoT narratives can be developed and designed is crucial for collaboration. These should be participatory workshops where people go through processes of brainstorming and prototyping and end up developing a whole range of new devices and potential collaborations.

What developments can we expect to see in IoT in the next 5 years?
I don't think the future is pre-determined. It's up to us to shape it - hence the need for more discussion and prototyping forums so that we can collectively build the future.

What advancements excite you most in this field?
The possibility for decentralised collectives of people to develop their own toolkits that support their specialised and particular notions of the world. Helping to facilitate that kind of socio-technical development is an exciting direction for IoT.

The Internet of Things Summit is taking place in London on 12-13 March. For more information and to register, please visit the event website here.

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