The Internet Of Things

There is this idea that, in the near future all the bits and bobs we own will be connected to the internet at some capcity. They’ll all share data back and forth, and everything will be great and no one will get spied on.

Except that’s not how it works.

The internet of things, as it exists today, is dependent on web services that actually proccess your data. It’s dependent on services that can be shuttered, without warning. It’s modeled on the same information gathering that made Search profitable. It’s fraught with poor security, and rife for exploitation.

In short, The Internet of Things is a mess.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there’s a real chance that we can make it be another way entirely. By and large IoT gadgets fall in to two categories. There are the fancy ones, like Nest, that are owned by major players and come with major problems, then there are the hobbyist projects, owned by the people that build them, with a different (and less menacing) set of problems.

A lot of these hobbiest projects are built around the ESP8266. It’s a cheap, low-power Wifi enabled microcontroller. You can write code on it, connect it to the internet, and let it report back to a server you run (or a server you’ve bought time on.) By and large, it’s powering a revolution in IoT style computing.

I have a box of ESP8266 development boards kicking around my apartment right now. I’ve been tinkering with the platform, and learning what it’s capable of. I can see this little chip leading a revolution is personal agency with respect to computers. I’ve already seen it ushering in something of a new wave of makers.

I see a lot of problems with the traditional capitalist approach to the internet (in general and of Things), and I’m not sure if there is a way through, that doesn’t harm a lot of people. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the makers that will save the day.


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Written on April 11, 2016