The Internet of Things: A Critique of Ambient Technology and the All-seeing Network of RFID

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About the publication: Cities across the world are about to enter the next phase of their development. A near invisible network of radio frequency identification tags (RFID) is being deployed on almost every type of consumer item. These tiny, traceable chips, which can be scanned wirelessly, are being produced in their billions and are capable of being connected to the internet in an instant. This so-called ‘Ambient intelligence’ promises to createa global network of physical objects every bit as pervasive and ubiquitous as the worldwide web itself. Some are already calling this controversial network the ‘internet of things’, describing it as either the ultimate convenience in supply-chain management, or the ultimate tool in our future surveillance. This network has the power to reshape our cities and yet it is being built with little public knowledge of consent.Here Rob van Kranenburg examines what impact RFID, and other systems, will have on our cities and our widersociety; while also ruminating on what alternative network technologies could help safeguard our privacyand empower citizens to take power back into their own hands. It is both a timely warning and a call to arms.

About the author: Rob van Kranenburg (1964) has been teaching at various schools in the Netherlands (UvA, EMMA Interaction Design, Industrial Design) and has worked at several Dutch cultural institutions; de Balie, Doors of Perception and Virtual Platform. Currently he works as the Head of the Public Domain Program at Waag Society. He lives in Ghent, Belgium.

Colophon: Network Notebooks editors: Geert Lovink and Sabine Niederer. Copy editing: Sean Dodson. Design: Studio Léon&Loes, Rotterdam Print: Telstar Media, Pijnacker. Publisher: Insitute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam. Supported by: Amsterdam School of Design and Communication, Interactive Media (Hogeschool van Amsterdam) and Waag Society, Amsterdam.

Read the foreward by Sean Dodson, titled Forward, A Tale of Two Cities.

Rob van Kranenburg, The Internet of Things. A critique of ambient technology and the all-seeing network of RFID, Network Notebooks 02, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 2007. ISBN: 978-90-78146-06-3.