Régine Debatty blogs on we-make-money-not-art.com, contributes to several European design and art magazines and lectures internationally about the way artists, hackers and interaction designers (mis)use technology.
A roadmap to openness: short report from the Internet of Open Stuff seminar
Short report from the Internet of Open Stuff, Paris, Open World Forum, October 11. Organized and moderated by Natacha Roussel and Rob van Kranenburg. Presenters: Alex Bassi, Hans Jürgen Kugler, Konstantin Schmölzer, and Stefan Ferber. In The Internet of Things & Services: Renaissance Re-Born, Hans-Jürgen Kugler of Kugler Maag Cie GmbH, and Stefan Ferber of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH, claim:
"The Internet of Things & Services is a major driver for technological development and will dramatically change products, services, and markets. It not only empowers people to collaborate, but any product or service developed by people – or those emerging from such collaboration. The technology will definitely change business, but the social implications will change our society beyond our wildest dreams. We are in the transition to a new society: We are in the 2nd Renaissance."
"Trust, empathy, and transcendence are the drivers for inner community relationships which may even take symbiotic forms.... Transparency and transcendence of purpose will be the foundation, not secretive privacy and selfishness. Openness is the basis for trust, which in turn is the precondition for building a society that respects individuals in their diversity, while foregrounding the 'entangledness' of all our lives. This connectedness will help to remind us that Earth is currently the only ecosystem accessible to us, defined by “planetary boundaries” providing “safe operating space for humanity."
This turned out to be the running thread during the session. Alex Bassi kicked of with a presentation of the largest IP in Europe go IoT, IoT-A - www.iot-a.eu - a complex undertaking that aims to build a common Reference Architecture Model for the Internet of Things; not the best Architecture or the best Reference Architecture, but more a cookbook for Internet of Things Architects, taking into account theoretical, technical, legal and societal constraints and influenced not only by the partners (see http://www.iot-a.eu/public/partners ) but also by a Stakeholder Group. IoT-A manages to bring a variety of companies that are also competing on different levels, into thinking and working on the right balance between interoperability and competition. In the Internet this perfect balance - tcp/ip- was achieved not only because it is simple and open but also because it is intrinsically unreliable and connectionless. And how to achieve this in a real world environment build on legacy and full out competition based business models is not self evident. There is a growing awareness in the industry that underlying technologies - not everything is going to be end to end -- need to be shared in order to be exploited and leveraged. The fact that a lot of different and competing companies are working together is in itself not something new. In the standard group of for example OSI there were companies too, but only to prevent each other from gaining strategic advantages. IoT, however, is a different landscape. It is so vast and global that the pie is big enough for everybody.
Hans-Jürgen Kugler started by quoting Brian Cox: "anything that can happen will happen." According to him, the Internet of Things and Services comes at the right time. Waves of open initiatives discover that community values harmonies with sustainable eco-systems. The Internet of Things and Services will connect these wave to a tide that will wash away some of the dogmatic relics of the industrial revolution. We are entering the creative age. Acceptance of diversity, trust, empowerment, empathy and a shared purpose are the foundations for healthy organizations, large or small. With the Internet of Things and Services we can really democratize the productive resources without "exclusion zones." And it will start with the merging of real and digital worlds. We have seen such mergers before, not of real and digital, but of the real with the new dawns of different broadening of mindsets because of the inventions and or/emergence, actualizations - of new and different perspectives. This can be taken quite literally. Before print everything in the relationship between master and pupil had to happen in and on sight. Cathedral builders drew in sand. Leonardo begins to map 3D unto 2D. Movable fonts are what make the print technology into a real revolution. Knowledge could become indecent from people, place and time, thus it could become a tool. Exactly the same constellation we find now - 500 years later - this time with the internet and the democratization of person-to-person communication as a new horizontal technology. The universal modeling language that is coming with this? Software or 'jellified knowledge' And as knowledge is only raw material that increases by use, this 2nd Renaissance foreshadows a second level of humanism at ridiculously low cost: share to get more in a spirit of openness and interdepended in order to co evolve a new ecosystem. It is paramount to find good stories and formats to bridge this to the industry still running 19th century Human Resources Management. It is the mental attitude of especially the owners that needs to be changed. Statistics show an average lifetime for a large Fortune 500 company to be around 40 years. SME's live 15. There is no need for this destruction of capital and soul of things and men. Business ecologies are slowly evolving - or should start to - towards a more system biology community oriented approach. See for example the speed and resilience of grassroots reaction in Japan when Pachube, local hackers and community groups on the ground got better pollution readings of the ground then any official organization. In order to broadly disseminate these ideas we need help from all walks of life, from all disciplines. Together we can change society. The Second Renaissance has begun. What we work on now will influence centuries from now. We should not only look at the gadgets, but also keep the big picture in mind. The smart phone will be one of the short lived physical appearances of smaller but still centralizing technologies, and others, more invisible ones but resembling very mundane objects will take their place. Build by humans, it will reflect intent, and thus it has to be designed. This was the subject of Konstantin Schmölzer.
Konstantin Schmölzer is part of a new movement of independent designers that set up loose collectives - as they did with an Association in Vienna - do not have (big) companies behind them, and see their main role as finding solutions for the future by translating scientific ideas, data and knowledge for specific purpose to different intelligences. Through performances and embodied interaction their pieces - often grounded in local practices - perform and initiate concepts and ideas. In one of the works he was involved in, for example, the lead user theory (a method to find early adopters before they know they are early adopter and take them into the process to deal with future customers) was used to foreground the loss of the traditional way of transferring knowledge - apprenticeship - by trying to find people who have a profession and or skills that are not needed in the city anymore. These were found to be predominantly deer hunting and woodwork skills. Once these people were found they were joined with the work of 'vertical garden visionary' Patrick Blanc and build old wooden tower constructions used in the woods to complement his vertical garden in Vienna.
The work of Konstantin is an ever-growing iteration of trials and experiment aimed at infusing creativity and respect for tradition and values. In this way he conceived of a plan that merges the artistic connotations of the flash mob (organizing a mass of individuals in synchronicity) with a more productive sense, that is addressing the unprecedented fast growth of youth unemployment. How could Internet of Things help to address this?
The whole domestic service sector is situated in a fragmented market. Employer and employee find each other through recommendations by family members, friends or colleges and this environment are mainly predominated by the black market. Due to the fact that the majority of these working agreements are still made under illegal deals, official search and advertising are not taken into consideration. Can Internet of Things enable a new type of economic growth, namely 'work where we want' in a dynamic and flexible way?" For example, if small garden jobs need to be done, or moving house, or paint jobs....Work When We Want is a service available through mobile devices (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) and web browsers, which combines current existing established payment instruments focused on the domestic service sector with the convenience of online payment, an evaluation network to improve the quality of the market, introduction and matching of households with workers and packages to overcome bureaucratic barriers. - Experimentation of novel business models based on the technological development, having as key point the integration of current social trends with sustainable economic policies.
Stefan Ferber concludes after hearing the presentations that in the end somebody has to implement this and put the theories into practice, not only on a small local scale bit also on large industrial infrastructure and application scale. Dr. Stefan Ferber, Director for Communities & Partner Networks in the Internet of Things and Services at Bosch Software Innovations GmbH in Germany, believes that Bosch with over 1500 product types and 5 to ten million products coming out every day, will have an important role in this operation. Not a shareholder company, but owned by a Foundation, Bosch can take a long-term perspective and is able to invest in foresight programs that are closer to the real business units and not only to the Innovation groups. Bosch has over 40.000 engineers and currently the use of open source is an important driver for streamlining processes and products. Open source software is among the few mechanisms to start change in a large company. This is not an easy operation. Not that long ago open source was not allowed by central directive in many companies, including Bosch. Research and good management articles are important to convince a Board, such as "The Emerging Economics of Open Source Software". Perens.com. 2004-09-30 that showed that moving towards open source was plain common business sense, reducing cost and overhead drastically and allowing you to explore the long tail. Until recently there were voices within the company who do not believe that internet will impact the product portfolio drastically. However, having observed the speed of convergence, the success of mobile, and the actual merging of the analogue and digital, this has now changed and IoT is seen as a potential severely disruptive horizontal operation that can maybe not be 'managed' but might be steered towards new balances of open and closed systems. Its drive towards transparency is definitely threatening current business models. M2M is distributing and decentralizing sensor and actuator intelligence; in much the same way as the Internet distributed media and music. It is quite natural and logical that certain business tries to close it down and locks itself in silos. Yet focusing on he threats is always a losing business strategy in the long run. We must focus on the opportunities, however difficult that is. The interoperability between multiple stakeholders that Alex Bassi addressed is of crucial importance. There is a lack of creativity in industry to invent new business models. The energy to protect an existent business is - strangely - sometimes higher than the profit behind it. In the push market economy, business sees this just as another battle. It is about protecting identity, protecting existing organizations, protecting existing jobs, and making investors happy. The social "tribe" pressure on a CEO is therefore pretty high... It is up to us, through meetings like the one we had today to come up with the best tools to empower the ones high up in the hierarchy so that they can convince their peers. That is the contour of our roadmap to openness.
Mail Rob van Kranenburg for the IoT-A Stakeholder Community
kranenbu at xs4all.nl
mail Natacha Roussel for slides
natacha at natacharoussel.com