Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Things

The aspiration as well as the work of "The Internet of Things" has never been otherwise than to mediate the reduction of people to things.

More Futurological Brickbats here.


bahlstrom said...

It seems the reduction of people to things has been the work of capitalism far before there was talk of "The Internet of Things", so in what ways does the "Internet of Things" change or expand on that reduction?

Dale Carrico said...

As you may know from reading my blog I regard the futurological and other modes of "tech-talk" as of a piece with the deceptive and hyperbolic norms and forms of marketing and (self-)promotional discourse that suffuse the public in this neoliberal phase of post-WW2 global/financial capitalism more generally. "The Internet of Things" is just a marketing conceit (like the EZ-pour spout or the Big Gulp qua "progress").

It is true that capitalism reduces people to things, or as I'm sure you mean more specifically it encloses the world in the commodity-form and so habituates us to interacting with the world and one another exclusively through the prices at which things are available for exchange so that being-alive, like everything else, is reduced to having-labor-to-sell (this reduction of being to having is then further reduced under mass-mediation to appearing under the Spectacle in Debord's parlance and is then further reduced still, I would propose, to "framing" under algorithmic mediation/Big Data) but the mechanisms through which these reductions are effected differ historically in ways that matter quite a lot.

Specificities matter, I'm sure you agree. To chart and analyze the specificities of the discourse of "The Internet of Things" would take more than an aphorism like my throwaway above, but some STS or DH critic could more than manage it -- including me, if I got around to it, I guess.