An analysis of all those Internet of Things manifestos sparked by the slow-motion IoT catastrophe

The Internet of Things morphed from a ridiculous answer in search of a problem ("why do I want my fridge connected to the internet?") to a source of Black Mirror-style modern absurdities ("someone pushed a load of internet porn to my fridge") to an existential threat ("my fridge just joined a world-killing botnet").

As these problems have manifested, they've spawned manifestoes, by designers, security experts, privacy activists, and other concerned parties tried to steer the phenomenon to better outcomes.

In Calling for a Revolution: An Analysis of IoT Manifestos, a CHI 2018 paper from Irina Shklovski, Rachel Douglas-Jones and Ester Fritsch of Copenhagen's IT University (Sci-Hub mirror), a trio of researchers trace the evolution of 28 of these manifestos, from 1991 to the present, and analyze their trajectory as an example of the burgeoning field of computer ethics.

Finally, what are the less ons here for HCI? The manifestos analyzed in this paper share a common purpose: to find ways to relate to an intangible and rapidly developing technological world they are themselves part of creating. Their social imagination forms an important source of data for HCI research, and a lively point of engagement between academic and practitioner discourse. IoT manifestos emerging from design communities create IoT as a matter of care [2] for practitioner communities, with the authors of these documents assembling for diverse and overlapping concerns, loudly sharing their uncertainties. Th is amplificatory tone makes public a space for caring for the future, clears the ground to make innumerable crossroads visible: choices of the everyday concerning connectivity, security and privacy, but also crossroads that face new geographies of exclusion. Authors of manifestos hope to see their words become actions – they are closely attentive to the “how” of their exhortations. If there is a revolution, its character appears in these manifestos as one of responsibilities.

There is opportunity here for HCI to follow the circulation both of manifestos and their authors, attending to the spaces they make in order to express their concern and create spheres of care (whilst attending to the politics of responsibility and responsibilisation). As Light et al. [20] suggest HCI scholars need to expand our boundaries for caring and attending to our relations. As these manifestos move through the world, it is a task of our own future work to engage the communities that create them, and to remain attentive to their post-publication lives as they are circulated, and deployed in sites where their manifesto commitments meet the complexities of the world. Manifestos offer a way in for action research and a multitude of roadmaps for how HCI scholars might theorise about and design for responsibility while attending carefully to the perils of responsibilisation.

Calling for a Revolution: An Analysis of IoT Manifestos [Irina Shklovski, Rachel Douglas-Jones and Ester Fritsch/Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems] (Sci-Hub Mirror)

A Time of IoT Manifestos (in Europe) [Irina Shklovski, Rachel Douglas-Jones and Ester Fritsch/]