IoTRotterdam contemplating on the connected impact

Last week Peter van Waart and Martin Pot organized IoTRotterdam. A series of events on the theme of the Internet of Things with a slight focus on the relation with the built environment. I attended the conference day on Tuesday and took part in a discussion on education and IoT, where I presented also some of my thoughts. And on Thursday I attended the first This happened Rotterdam that turned out to be connected too.

On the conference day there was a mix of speakers but all were on the more contemplative approach. Like Tijmen Wisman that did quite a rant on the privacy aspects. Ending with a conclusion that IoT leads to slavery. It can be like a trojan horse as it enters your home and makes the last real private place public too. This is indeed an important aspect of the Internet of Things that should not be overlooked. It could be like a weapon, in the wrong hand it could do harm. If you lose control on your data you lose your privacy. Creating awareness is in that sense important.

Earlier that day Nicole Dewandre of the EU committee told about the onlife research initiative within the EU she is responsible for. She sees a paradox in keeping the focus on people as sensitive beings in a high functional context that the connected world is shaping.

The shift that is happening: we had the primacy of entities, now the primacy of interactions. “Boundaries are not fences but restricted connections.” This is an interesting concept because of the link to the connected world. Our boundaries are not defined by something geospacial, but by the existence of connections. From the sky is the limit to the earth is the limit, we are now coming to the self is the limit.

In the same flow was the talk of Carolyn Strauss from Slowlab. The introduction movie made the whole concept looking quite soft, but it turned out that she introduced some concepts that can be inspiring in the thinking on our connected world.

She mentioned six principles of slow design: reveal, expand, reflect, engage, participate, evolve. She did not go into deep for all of these, and did not connect them to the Internet of Things context, something that could be done easy. She asked herself the question if the Internet of Things could be made slow. That is the wrong question I think, you can create slow things with the help of Internet of Things principles looking to the six principles. Adding a reflective layer to products from the context, creating options to engage. Etcetera. I think Tellart have shown some great examples of that approach in their work, for instance for Google Chrome Lab and even more with the Love Song Machine. And also a lot of the work of BERG is a proof of that, only think of Little Printer.

So in the end the thoughts of Carolyn were interesting, the way she wants to execute them in this domain could be much more interesting.

This is an aspect that could be an important part in the education of IoT. The discussion on Wednesday was good to see how the agencies has a different approach still with some similarities. Seeing Internet of Things more as evolution of interaction based design. Where data is a distinctive value and invention an important design strategy. Enough inspiration for the educational system, where the biggest barriers the silos in disciplines are, that are forced by the rule system.

Published by


I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s