Shuyi Sun – The Thing about the Internet of Things

Objects, locations, and situations are interconnected through a kind of network that enables their coordination, interaction, and cooperation. Such a pervasive presence of connections is the Internet of Things (IoT). These clusters of objects work together to achieve individual and common goals. Typically, these objects are digital or technical smart objects. Because of the common association of “internet” with the world wide web and computers, it is hard to imagine the Internet of Things referring to other fields, but recent research has tried to connect IoT with CSCW and other social and societal areas of study.

I found it interesting that, going by common definitions of the Internet of Things, this global network does not technically need to be technical at all. Of course, given that industrial and scientific advancements involve technology more and more, this connectivity is inevitably electronic. I think this idea of an interconnect network is one of the first virtual concepts to exist for the digital age. The shift into a technical Internet of Things further necessitates inclusions of CSCW because computer supported cooperative work feels like a part of the big Internet of Things to begin with.

The Internet of Things feels like a vague an arbitrary concept to me. It has almost as many definitions as the word “intelligence”. CSCW, too, involves many smaller issues such as social computing and collaborative technology. Because the circle is so large, it is without doubt the two have common ground. Collaboration is both required and the end goal of cooperation and communication between objects. 

The topics brought up in this paper all have to do with human factors. Coordination, context, and awareness that things that humans excel in still even in digital ages. This makes me feel that combining CSCW research with the Internet of Things is a way to humanize objects and spaces. This would also enable users to have an easier time. Giving machines and things awareness is probably relatable to the field of Artificial Intelligence. If things become self aware and self sustaining, collaboration between things would be very possible. 

By applying the Internet of Things to everyday life, it has made me realize that, in some ways, humans are also a part of the Internet of Things. As users, we still use things for various purposes, in various ways. In a way, not being able to fix broken appliances means one thing, humans, were not able to collaborate successfully with another, the appliances. If following this theory, I feel developers may have a better understanding of the need to create things fitted for the users.