"Internet Of Things Is Crap, We Care About People Not Things"

  • In this present climate of excitement and apprehension around the ‘Internet of Things,’ Sen.se takes a decisive step to make sense of personal data. Open.sen.se, a recently launched open platform for data-based human expressions, is driven by a firm belief in “an ‘Internet of Everything’ where Humans, Nature, Machines, Objects, Environments, Information, Physical and Virtual spaces all mix up, talk, intertwine, interact, enrich and empower each other.” When I asked Rafi Haladjian, the illustrious Founder of Sen.se, about an important event/moment that really inspired the building of this platform, he replied “yeah, the day we freed ourselves of the ‘Internet of Things’ crap.” Below is the rest of the story.

    Name five (or more) books/comics/films/thinkers that have inspired you (and the team) in creating Open.sen.se.
    “We are inspired by: (1) ourselves and our previous work (at Violet); (2) Walt Disney movies, specially Snow White and Fantasia, and all other movies where there are enchanted houses and environments and friendly little animals that help you do the cleaning; (3) everything written by Kevin Kelly; (4) books by Tom Igoe; (5) the book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by William J. Mitchell; (6) tons of serendipitous sentences in tons of other books; (7) our interpretation of what Marshall McLuhan wrote; (8) what we understood of William Gibson when translated in French; and (9) the feeling of weightlessness you get when you do scuba diving. And no, we were not inspired by Minority Report.”

    Name five (or more) types of data feed (fed to Sen.se) that would really excite you guys?
    “(1) We would love to have live streaming life videos with sound like the one in this TED Talk by Deb Roy of MIT; (2) live streams from sensors measuring radioactivity around the world; (3) feeds of how much money people are spending and then mash expenditure data up with all the other data of their lives; (4) feeds of peoples moods, levels of stress, people’s diaries etc. for further mash-ups; (5) output feeds to lighting systems, motors, every single device around us. In short data feeds about things that carry real meaning of what people do and feel and not just numerical figures of temperature and power consumption.”

    So what made you guys unhappy about the ‘Internet of Things’ and made you reach out to the ‘Internet of Everything’?
    “I think nobody cares about the ‘Internet of Things’, nobody cares about the things (unless you are in logistics). What we care about is about ourselves. So what matters is how are we going to gather data from everything we do not only in the virtual realm but also in the physical realm. You don’t have to give a name to that. We have already started doing this since we have GPS and accelerometers in our iPhones and stuff. Nobody thinks of GPSs as the ‘Internet of Things,’ but it is. Everybody thinks of the ‘Internet of Things’ as something that is yet to come. But the trend to connect more stuff to the internet, pour new sorts of data in the internet have started ten years ago (even more) and this is happening rather naturally.”

    A “globally interconnected and immersive world” would require a lot of shared data feeds, as not everybody can or should create own data feeds. Is Sen.se planning to allow sharing of data feed among its users, given its present emphasis on private data histories?
    “We are not sure that sharing is mandatory. We rather see ourselves as a Bank where people store data about their lives. As a bank we give them interests on their data as we help them build meaning and generating new data based on the raw data they have stored in their account. We also help the user make use of the stored data to obtain services, to trigger applications. We help him/her to invest the data in collective actions where more meaning can be created by putting the data of a mass of people together.”

    … and the big question everyone is curious about, how many rabbits were harmed during testing of the Sen.se alpha version?
    “About two.”