I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, he is called Kelvin, he is a smart fridge. My coffee cups, while all different, have one thing in common, they don’t like Kelvin, he is simply a bit dull. When he arrived he was terribly cool, he is after all, a fridge, but he is also part of the Internet of Everything or IoE. It turns out that Kelvin and all his friends, who are also called Kelvin, are only available in beige.
Kelvin is every bit as dull as he sounds. Once Kelvin was connected to the rest of the supply chain, so that the supermarkets knew, not just what we bought, but what we had or were about to run out of, the variety in my diet diminished as habit took over. Supply chains love predictability. Kelvin helps by asking me if I want more of the same. I’m busy, of course I do.
Some terribly clever company whose core competence is supply chain management, will some time soon, gladly give us a Kelvin (who I made up) at cost, or less, if it can talk to their clever systems. Does all this sound a little familiar? Low cost gadgets in exchange for data and undiluted access to your custom? That’s all a Kindle is, except its a smart book shelf not a fridge, obviously.
Once I have a Kelvin, the contents of my fridge can then restore themselves as I waddle off to an increasingly beige, featureless future in which I only ever eat and drink things I already eat and drink. Perhaps when I go on holiday I can avoid all that dreadful foriegn food by logging on to the Kelvin at my destination before I even get there, and it can furnish my bland habits, sparing me from the terror of variety. Better still, I can buy a Kelvin for an aged relative and, safe in the knowledge that they won’t starve, drop by a little less often.
I’ve read some heartening stuff recently about the resurgence of vinyl, of independent book shops and even the Swiss watch industry. Thing is though, I am not that bothered whether my book is electronic or paper, my music digital or analogue or my watch driven by a battery or a spring. Frankly, in each case, the digital approach has some pretty serious advantages. I am bothered about whether my life is primarily defined by interactions between me and a machine or me and other people.
There are a few definitions of the Internet of Everythinf kicking about, here is one from Cisco,
“The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before — turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.”
While this definition mentions people, when I read about their role in the IoE. the tone still assumes that corporations will control and exploit the data. I am also sure that it will be presented as terribly cool, but result in my interacting with people a lot less, my being a little less human and experiencing a lot less variety, the thing that spices up my life.
Can we have an internet of people please?