On Council and why I founded it, background on Internet of Things ecosystem

… This means that it is vital that citizens become part of the full loop, from the beginning of asking questions about smart services in smart cities to feeling safe and secure with their home appliances. That is why in 2010, Council set up IoT Day on April 9th (iotday.org). The event has grown in scale and scope as IoT sinks more into everyday life. For the 2017 edition, there were 58 events across the globe, ranging from people in a bar talking about the changes that they see in their daily work, to panels and seminars and professional workshops. The purpose of IoT Day is to get an organic, local public debate going, resulting in larger groups of diverse people asking what kind of society they want. For the 2018 edition, Council will team up with the IoT Consortium (iofthings.org). Starting this fall, using the iotday.org/ events link, you can upload events for 9 April 2018.

Council is a timely ecosystem. Although it is not yet viewed as a strategic powerhouse, having grown only slowly without any advertising, it will soon become more visible in that capacity. It is a small but decisive building block, building a new political decentralized system where transparency reigns, all nodes are equal, and earlier dependencies are eradicated.


It is a useful document, @RobvanKranenburg, thank you for sharing it. I find this “origin story” really interesting. You were part of a small group of people who, early on, saw a transformation coming. You concluded you had

[…] two options: either we assist policy to ensure that at least some public space survives, or we build our own parallel systems .

Question: how, in your opinion, can public space be made to survive? I know, for example, Arduino founder Massimo Banzi’s take on this matter: never connect devices with anything other than open source hardware and software. This will put some “give” into the system. Last time I heard him speak about this, he preferred to use the locution “connected devices” instead of “Internet of things”.

On the opposite side of the argument, Alan Greenfield has a model of how a related concept, “smart city”, has been gaining traction, despite very serious intellectual, moral and technical shortcomings:

What happens […] inside the municipal bodies that constitute the primary presumptive audience for such a marketing campaign? Low-level bureaucrats, pressed for time and starved for insight, stumble onto this thicket of conversation via a cursory keyword search; they copy-and-paste a few lines from the first reasonably credible-looking search result into their PowerPoint slides, unmodified; and these slides then get submitted up the hierarchy. The language propagates across the institution — and, what’s more, it meshes with that found in the hurriedly-downloaded white papers on the subject that someone found on the website of a name-brand management consultancy. The savvier staffers start to feel confident using these terms: speaking in them, thinking in them.

In other words, no solution is offered. All we know is marketing, and anything that feeds the hype, make matters much, much worse.

What does your group think?

Hi Alberto,

We do not have ‘one’ group. There is no “we”. I can only talk for myself. People that I meet align than go elsewhere. We share a sensibility, that is all. When that converges you get a certain idea of where the keys to change are. None of what I have written was ‘engineered’, it all happened, like it is happening now.

So I speak for me.

As we are part of a project that works with public money, you, me, must believe in this public space, otherwise we would not be in it. I believe in it to the extent that I can be a real agent in trying to change it. That is what I am trying to achieve with the invite only expert workshops in the Taskforces, to build a common understanding that there is no escape from this transition and that leadership means taking control of the drivers. I get very good input and feedback, a lot of gov and biz are beginning to see the world will consist of a few large ecosystems and we can shape ours. Every situation is historical and full of opportunity of change. Thinking the course is set is not for people in a strategy group, but for people who are afraid and want to escape.

On the parallel systems: here ‹we see the LEDGER space opening up and with DECODE and Jaromil led zenroom (see decodeproject.eu) ideas about data, privacy, security are no longer niche but getting traction, alongside the awareness that is build with dowse.eu. I am talking with hardcore thinkers like Stephan Engberg who too thinks we need to rebuild bottom-up - literally aiming to replace/upgrade almost all standards. And I fully agree. But I do not want to do that for one village, or one group of people and that means that without agency on the system as such we can not change its drivers or slow it down. And besides, this is the Borg we are engulfed in, there is not one location on the planet of the grid that will remain ‘free’ (which is why Moneyland aims to go to the Moon/Mars).And we need to slow it down as the world is now clocking in on a crazy Silicon Valley individualist start start start up mode. We need to take back our own pace.

On Arduino: I wads around when that started from IVREA Design School, as a great educational project of building a micro processor as a design challenge that turned out to be a great prototyping platform on the PROCESSINg of Casey Reas.

Arduino brilliantly steered this design object into a fully open source environment tuned to makers first https://www.fastcompany.com/3025320/how-arduino-is-becoming-the-worlds-social-network-for-hackers-and-makers and then, now to partnering with Intel and ARM.
In a way they have become a quite normal IoT company. Being close to them I can contact them quickly when Council members in Lagos want training, for example.
I am very happy to hear more from Banzi but I think connected devices is just another name for the kind of connectivity that is IoT.

“Some argue that the maker movement may have passed its peak and is now moving away from microelectronics, but Banzi is not convinced. “Here in Europe, the maker scene is different from California where it is closely related to artists, hackers, and the local fringe culture. In Europe, there is a lot of overlap between makers and small and medium enterprises. A lot of these small companies run using maker methodologies. For instance, if they don’t have the money for expensive machinery, they build their own do‑it‑yourself solutions using maker tools.””


So yes I am very interested in new network topologies, in breaking tcp-ip, in investigating networks that connect only to each other at the edge, no central node, no server architecture ‘systems’ like Centralization vs. Decentralization: Two Centuries of Authority in Design - Smári McCarthy

And we have money in NGI to fund these ideas, so if you know of hackers and ciders who want to investigate these types of new connectivities please send three to me so we can help them broker proposals.

On Adam:

I have known Adam for over 15 years. He first reached out to me when I was working as Flow editor with John Thackara on Doors of Perception:
Incidentally that is where I laid the foundation for a large part of my understanding of what is now iot meeting for example my good friend Usman Haque from Pachube (as no EU VC was found -typically- forced to sell to US VC Logmein, Xively and now oh irony: Google).
Since then we met in Taiwan where I went with him on one of his very good and productive city walks, set next to him in meetings where he was astonished how I could sit all day through these awful ppt presentations indeed of IoT architectures (I told him I daydream) and had him invited (with Alex Bassi) to speak to the entire IERC and IOT Forum community in 2012 in Venice Adam Greenfield - IoT Week
He then presented a set of slides which consisted purely of the marketing ppt of all major companies. Her thought that would wake up the crowd, the IoT community, all they saw was someone playing back the same hype that the marketeers in their own HQS were building that none of them believed as well. Adam thought he was ‘critical’ in the lions den. It had no effect at all. I was in the audience with the engineers, in the projects, working hard as one of the team and I saw this firsthand.
It had no effect as I predicted that in the 2007 text. You can not fight an ontological change with toolsets from the old paradigm. The only way, simple Bucky, is to build a new one alongside it. All else, flight, escape, protest, hacks, simply strengthens the funders and vested interests, in fact by opposing them you give them fuel to hold out a bit longer. But OK! I still respect that position, a lot. A kind of similar attempt is done by Aral Balkan and Schrecko Horvath and DIEM who also think I have gone over to the dark side when I try to expose my ideas to them that include working with current gov and current big tech and SME and hackers and…in order to build a smart society - if it has to be smart - then preferably a smart society for all and not just for the rich or the hipsters.
IoT is a basic operation of automation started from the Industrial Revolution with a logic that seems to be of its own and whoever denies that it is real, but that it is marketing at this moment is totally irresponsible towards the younger generations the Igens and Millennials on their devices all the time, rapidly growing up in a fully engineered AR and VR fed Matrix. Anyone doing that for really good personal reasons and from an old worn through position like Adam I respect. Anyone voicing that position now makes him or herself fully irrelevant, niche and in my opinion romantically escapist.

Interested in a pragmatic approach:
Free e-book


Ouch. I try not to make that particular mistake… it seems I slipped. Noted, and apologies for attributing you things you did not say. In my defense, the document might be interpreted as there being a “we” (“I tried to raise awareness among my friends, artists, writers, thinkers, and makers […] This is about us […] It was time we organize”].

What a fascinating story! It seems to imply that everyone in the room was fully aware that they were part of an effort with no intellectual integrity. “Yeah, so? What did you expect? We know it’s a scam, we are in it for the money.” Is that what you mean? That’s way darker than I thought. :frowning:

I am not sure how to deal with your assertion that

In Against the smart city, Greenfield does not deny the reality of the consequences of the smart city discourse. In fact, the book ends on a warning:

this rhetoric does work in the world. It sets agendas, influences perceptions of what it means to be “advanced,” recalibrates norms and guides the allocation of resources. Proliferated across the network without end or limit, we can see it filling an entire space of sociotechnical possibility with the airless hegemony of a single bad idea that no one has the time or energy to fight, least of all the citizens whose lives will wind up conditioned by it.

What he does deny is that the smart city concept (not the IoT, though the two are connected) makes any kind of sense. He takes it apart with the tools of urban planning. He does such a good job that that concept has become just… untouchable, for any self-respecting person. As far as I am concerned, what matters about his position is not whether it is old, but whether it is right, and I believe it is. I am not even making only an academic point. I am being pragmatic, just like you say, because facts are unyielding, and a big weapon to fight the smart city ideology is that, in practice, it does not work.

This is why, in this debate here, I am looking for technological facts to buttress visions and political positions. Pushing a vision through is always hard (your document is a clear witness of this). Pushing it through against the facts seems just too hard!

Hi Alberto, good points! I am not really sure what you mean with your last paragraph. What ‘facts’ you are referring to. I am not so much interested if a position is old or new or ‘right’ (right for who?) but if it is relevant to our work here. Of c course if I see it as a football team I would want Adam or someone taking his position (and there are quite a few edgeryders who have taken it quite literally it seems) on the playing field. But only as 1 of the 11 positions, as our job is to build an inclusive zone for our client, the European taxpayer. But indeed yes, very good discussion, definitely a workshop that I think edgeryders can set up in Brussels, I will most certainly join!

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“Right” in this context means what it means for climate change. The people who are acknowledge as knowing most about this particular set of issue all agree on the basic facts: climate change is happening, and it is caused by human activity. Debate over. For the smart city it is the same: it is Le Corbusier 2.0, and that position has no intellectual currency anymore. Debate also over.

Agreed. But, what workshop are we talking about?

One that you will set up?

Debate over.
Interesting. So you are “right” (which I dispute as our discussion on AG has in know way relations on any level to global warming or heating) and declare debate over? quite a decentralized approach!

Not me. But Greenfield, yes. One section of Against the smart city is titled (emphasis mine)

13 | The smart city replicates in tone, tenor, form and substance most if not all of the blunders we associate with the discredited high-modernist urban planning techniques of the twentieth century.

He can say that, without his position necessarily implying an act of intellectual arrogance. This is because actually, science does run a decentralized approach. Anyone can dispute anyone else; scientific consensus forms when authoritative authors all (or close enough) agree. Authoritative authors are those who are quoted by other authors, who are themselves authoritative. Yes, it is recursive, but the recursion can be handled mathematically by the Perron-Frobenius theorem. Science is an “eigendemocracy”.

I quoted climate change, because the same eigendemocratic process invoked by Greenfield against the smart city powers the claims of climate scientists when they say that the debate on human-fueled climate change is conclusive, or at least as conclusive as it gets in science.

We could think of setting it up together? Let’s talk!

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Great! Calling you next week. Have a good weekend!

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Getting the Jedi on :grin:

If you do, dont forget to ping @inge and @anon82932460 for comms support.

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