In a post on TechCrunch Jon Evans runs through the various ways we might have to rethink ownership in a tightly vertically integrated economy of an ‘internet of things’. The article resonates with the talk “Dancing with Data” by Chris Speed that I posted a few weeks ago, about markets, value and how we can understand our everyday uses of digital technologies.
As Chris argues, you/we are already enrolled into markets through the ‘data exhausts‘ of our stuff and as Jon Evans argues in the article, even as the ‘owner’ of the physical device you have no real control over whether or where that data exhaust goes. As Evans goes on to say, there is increasingly a variety of forms of ownership of any given device: there’s physical possession, legal ownership and the ultimate power to command it (what you might call “root” access). Likewise, in an article in The Atlantic (to which Evans links) Madrigal and Meyer point out the peculiarities of interoperation that an Internet of Things requires:
Most “smart-home” devices right now aren’t talking to each other directly over a local wifi network. Instead, they’re talking to enormous and centralized data centers, which are then talking to each other, which are then (finally) sending instructions back to different devices in your home.
Evans goes on to argue that we could think about ownership another way:
the possibility of a decentralized Internet of Things; smart things which don’t communicate with any central server, but rather with a peer-to-peer, perhaps blockchain-based network. Consider the way FireChat is being used in Hong Kong, so that protestors can communicate despite the authorities’ control of the mobile networks. You don’t always actually need a central server, especially if you have a distributed-consensus system – like a blockchain – for longer-term data storage and algorithmic coordination.
It’s an interesting, relatively short, article with plenty of links to follow up – worth a read!
Read the rest of the article.