Ability to create stories in time and space

Per Johansson runs his own company, Diakrino, and is co-founder of the think tank Infontology.The text is taken from our publication “Internet of Things”, about how the media industries can benefit from a network of connected things.

The Internet of Things could be constructed so that things become ”bridges” that enable people to come into contact with each other and understand their environment in new ways.

Imagine you are in a square and you can talk not only with the people there, but also with the fountain, sculptures, benches, and pigeons. What can they say to you? What can you say to them? Who else has talked to them before? What have they said?

The bench would be able to convey thoughts, impressions, and stories from everyone who ever sat on it. The pigeons could tell about where they prefer to sleep and about what is in the air you breathe.

A place full of stories. Photo by* wili, CC BY-NC

Bridge between local and digital

With an Internet of Things that has become as natural as texting is today, we can expect a completely different accessibility and response from and through the physical environment. The boundary between local and nonlocal (digital) is erased, at the same time that places become deeply meaningful.

A fantasy landscape in the midst of daily life. Inspiration can be taken from geocaching, which is based on entering GPS coordinates where a “treasure” is hidden. Then you have to get there.

Participants interact with a digital space, but what really happens is that they discover and explore real locations and the path that leads to them. If they could talk to all manner of things along the way— and find out what ideas, information, pictures others left behind here and there— then the entire physical space could convey an ongoing, more vibrant account of life in the here and now, although, paradoxically, without physical limitations. Endless games and potential meetings could be constructed as needed.

Making sense of large amounts of data

Meaningful experience is intimately linked to stories. The sum of all the data constantly generated, most of it beyond anyone’s consciousness, can in turn be harvested and illustrated in countless ways, both useful and useless, humorous and serious.

Different time dimensions gain a new, immediate significance. Each place, each thing has a future and a history and a series of simultaneous relationships. Enhancing accessibility for all this can raise awareness about what is going on and what we are doing. History can literally be created and recreated on site and in a way that both deepens and broadens the sense of presence. And both intentional and unintentional patterns can be visualized through different interfaces.

As more things are actively included in communicating networks, complexity will increase exponentially. An essential task for the media savvy will be to make this complexity transparent and relevant in a way that strengthens human benefit and inspires a sense of participation.