Response: Why Things Matter by Julian Bleecker 1993


Source Material: A Manifesto for Networked Objects – Cohabiting with Pigeons, Arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Things By Julian Bleecker 1993.

Information taken from the environment by Blogjects will be shared through networks and become relevant in social discourse. Networked objects will make us more responsible for our actions towards each other, animals and the environment. Bleecker mentions Michael Naimark remark on the psychological effect the surveillance project, Kundi Project, will have to discourage rape in refugee camps. Blogging whales and other animals will make us more aware of nature and cause us to change how we cohabit space. ‘Canary in a coal mine’ was brought up to indicate how animals have influenced our behaviour in the past and used to support his thesis that networked objects, things and animals will cause us to consider non-human sourced information in our future actions.

Blogjects will have a distinct role in society, which is determined by three repeating characteristics: tracers, history, and agency. Blogjects produce, circulate, and maintain conversations using bits of socially relevant information such as pollutant levels in groundwater. This is valuable information to environmentally conscious people. Blogjets have three key features. Tracers record all places, encounters, and experiences. Tracers already have power, displayed in the example where one man’s luggage is redirected en-route and the consequential redirected traveler to reclaim it. History would reveal all the information about the object, what it is made of, how it is made. Agency, reflected in “the ability to foment actions through the significance of their assertions.” It is through the sharing of information that people will become more considerate of their surroundings and nature altogether.

 Technology has not yet reached a point where blogging objects are possible. They would require a great degree of sophistication beyond life-less sensor-based networked objects. Botanicalls is a tweeting moisture sensor that gives the impression of being an active participant through a selection of pre-recorded audio files and a unique voice. However, it is only one-way communication and therefore could not maintain conversations like Bleeker was mentioning. There was not a lot of information about how the blogjects would carry-on a conversation, which is key to the premise of the argument. Besides mentioning quantitative measurements of toxins, how else will the object respond to the subsequent dialogue of minimizing the threat? The idea that he proposes is fascinating, but requires more thought.

 

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