The Street of Shared Things

3/03/2010 - 14:26

"It would be ideal if you could borrow what you lack from your neighbours. I love soup, but unfortunately I do not always have all the things or even the knowledge that I need to prepare it. If sharing was the norm this would not be an obstacle. Neighbours, too, could benefit from sharing, especially if they don’t know each other (that well). Many of us have tools lying around the house that we barely use. I find it a shame to buy such tools but too often I see it as my only option.{C}This master’s thesis looks at ways in which computer technology, hidden into everyday objects, can enable a platform which will help people to share with their neighbours. For such a platform to be possible, people have to be able to trust each other.

 The platform I propose uses everyday objects that become ‘smart’ through already existing technology. They are referred to as ‘smart things’ because we can communicate with them. This is possible by giving everyday objects a small computer chip that can be read from a distance through radio waves. Smart things can then be connected to the Internet, thus creating an ‘Internet of Things’ (van Kranenburg, 2008). Connecting them in this way makes it easy to retrieve the exact locations of the shared smart things available. It is within this context that I attempt to create a platform in my street which helps neighbours trust each other enough to share.

In order to discover what my neighbours actually think of sharing, I try to borrow the equipment that I need for preparing soup. While this platform can be used to share anything, I chose to investigate its possibilites for making soup because, for me, it is a perfect example of something that I lacked the equipment for. Instead of borrowing a mixer I waited for years until I finally bought one myself. While borrowing equipment I attempt to manipulate trust. For this I use insights derived from existing systems of sharing or trading. In doing so, I want my neighbours to consider sharing and the extent of trust required more thoroughly. I also use a critical scenario of a possible platform that, due to its provocative nature, should challenge the neighbours to think beyond what they already know in terms of (technological) possibilities (Bowen, 2007). Using their reflections on smart things, along with their consideration of sharing, I engage my neighbours in ‘co-design’. This means that I design, together with my neighbours, a platform subject to the conditions within which they would see fit to share in their street."
Arne Jansen
arne [dot] jansenImage removed.student [dot] khlim [dot] be - arne [dot] jansenImage removed.telenet [dot] be

Sharing, Internet of Things, Smart Things, Co-design, Trust
Bowen, S. J. (2007). Crazy Ideas or Creative Probes?: Presenting Critical Artefacts to Stakeholders to Develop Innovative Product Ideas. In: Proceedings of EAD07: Dancing with Disorder: Design, Discourse & Disaster. [21.06.2009, Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive:].

van Kranenburg, R. (2008). The Internet of Things: A critique of ambient technology and the all-seeing network of RFID. In G. Lovink, & S. Niederer (reds.), Network Notebooks. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures [13.11.2008, Institute of Network Cultures:].