Lightbulb Ideas

In A Sense of Place, 12. SOP 2.0 by Melvin2 Comments

As I read The Networking of Public Space, I look around and I the things I see happening confirm the suspicions that I read about in their writing. I was in 5th grade when I got my first phone. It was a flip phone, and that was the time when I was first introduced to the wonders and the horrors of technology. Things were much different. I didn’t even have any internet on it, and all I had on it was a few games like Tetris or other puzzle games. I also used to only have a limit of only 200 texts per month. But today, with my iPhone, if I have internet access, which I do, anywhere in America, I can access the whole web, watch youtube videos, download games, video call friends, and even order food and do homework on my phone. Things have completely changed from a few years ago. People didn’t use to have this kind of power. But today, we all carry this huge amount of power in our pockets. As technology continues developing this rapidly, it drives forward, leaving humans behind scrambling to adjust to a constantly changing and updating, new world.

One of the topics that Varnelis and Friedberg talk about in The Networking of Public Space are RFID tags. They talk about a future where RFID tags lead to a world where computing is literally everywhere. Although nowadays, computing is already kind of is everywhere. One chapter is labeled “the Coming Sentience of the World”. Although RFID’s are passive, they explain that these tags may continue to develop and expand to the point that even completely inanimate objects may start to have the ability to communicate and exchange data between other inanimate objects. They may start to collect data, and that this data would be too readily available for whoever wants to collect it. Already, things like stop lights are already collecting tons of data about us. In the future though, RFID tags may lead to a future where inanimate objects to the point of lightbulbs are sending data to things. This is because RFID tags can already be used to track people.

I find it kind of uncomfortable that this may happen in the near future. I do not want my light bulb to talk to for example any other things. My lightbulb should not be broadcasting data to the outside world without me being able to stop it. Already with smart homes and smart bulbs and Alexa, we can already see the technology developing towards that direction.

So, if the world is headed towards that direction, which it currently is, we need to be more aware and careful of the dangers and nuances that this brings. Companies are getting more control, and more ways to collect data about us. Companies are also getting more ways to track and analyze the individuals that they now target. In order to now get overpowered by these companies, we need to have more knowledge of the dangers of this development and what it means for us.

We must worry about this because in this more connected and more connected world, things will get faster and faster, and we are going to lose touch with reality. I think this is dangerous, and can lead to more isolation in a way. If we aren’t careful, we’re going to be lost floating in space.


  1. Hi, Melvin, I relate to your fears quite a bit. However, not because it “can lead to more isolation”, but because it leads to an absolute lack of privacy. Big brother is, actually, watching over us. And this big brother is not the government (or maybe them too), it is the private sector and companies trying to get us to buy their products. When Alexa listens to our conversation, the machine knows that you “love that new coffee you bought, honey” and it will do its best to recommend that brand on your Amazon account. Uh oh, lets open our eyes! Thank you for your post. — A

  2. Hey Melvin! I feel like this is such an important point that you’re making! It’s interesting because I think that, in terms of development, having “smart objects” that are able to generate information and store/transmit it to other objects is brilliant for maintaining a functioning and responsive system on a city-wide (or global-wide, country-wide, household, neighborhood, etc) scale. A lot of the problems we have with waste, non-renewable energy, lack of clean drinking water, etc. are derived from systematic issues. Having the ability to generate this sort of feedback gives us the power to address issues on a large scale, and have a more informed understanding of what specifically needs to be targeted. BUT you are definitely right, I think it can be very isolating when all of the processes around you become automated, because it is then easy to relinquish the responsibility to understand how they work, and make sure that they are operating effectively, which in turn leads us to be less immersed in the world around us.

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