People and the Wild Internet of Everything

“Cisco’s view is that IoE technically differs from the Internet of Things; IoT is composed of connected objects, while IoE encompasses the networks that must support all the data these objects generate and transmit. “Software by itself won’t get the job done,” Chambers said at Interop in October, arguing that IoE demands data center software and hardware that work in concert.” – Information Week

Software is part of the solution. Hardware is part of the solution. People are the other part. Humans can connect complex things together better than any software or hardware system. It remains that the only practical interface with complexity is the human brain. It’s why the Turing test, to the chagrin of technology  marketers, has never been passed by a machine.

Better than a single human brain are many human brains cooperating and collaborating in social networks. Perhaps even better would be networked humans combined with networked technology – the Internet of Everything. So for the IoE to be successful, people will be the deciding factor. The 2014 PEW Internet Project report covers a wide variety of perspectives on the potential changes we may see.

The scarce resource will continue to be human attention. There is a limit to the usefulness of devices that are worn in public but that demand attention because it is often socially and practically unacceptable to give those devices enough attention to make them worth the trouble of configuring and interacting with. – Karl Fogel, Open Tech Strategies

We aren’t evolved enough as a species or society to create apps and services that are useful to humanity in the Internet of Things. We’ll try to create efficiencies but be thwarted by Nature’s complexity. False positives from contextual movements will break people’s willingness to have devices track their expressions and thoughts. – Jerry Michalski, Relationship Economy eXpedition

Our deep desires to be entertained and connected will lead us to accept these devices. Younger folks will lead the way. Our will to create will make us want these devices ready and on-hand. – Bryan Alexander, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education

Beth Kanter commented to me that, “the first phase of the web was about documents and conversations. We are entering into the next phase which data are the connective tissue between those things. Data literacy skills are important!” Data literacy is showing people that they have access to the most powerful communications medium in history and that individuals have to grab hold of it, understand it and use it for the good of society, because we are society. Data literacy is not about doing a job better. It’s understanding what it means to work, to create, and to be responsible, all within the context of being visible to everyone else. Data literacy means growing up, fast.

Data literacy is the way in which we connect with information, build knowledge, gain trust and strive for credibility in the network era. I have summarized 34 ways to approach sense-making and knowledge-sharing, given our current technologies. With the Internet of Everything, it is likely we will need to develop more and better ways to do so.

Data literacy could be seen as part of a new network era fluency – individuals and communities contributing to global networks that influence various aspects of their lives. For individuals, the core skill is critical thinking, or questioning all assumptions, including one’s own. People can learn through their various communities and develop better social literacy. Data literacy is improved by connecting to a diversity of networks. Mass network era fluency can ensure that networks remain social, diverse, and reflect many communities. This kind of fluency, by the majority of people, will be needed as people are outnumbered by devices on the Internet. People cannot deal with the arising complexity of the Internet of Everything unless they can knowledgeably talk about it. This requires fluency by an educated and informed citizenry.

And when he came to the place where the wild things are
they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws
til Max said “BE STILL!”
and tamed them with the magic trick
of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once
and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all
and made him king of all wild things.
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Image by Simon Heath

Image by Simon Heath

This post is brought to you by InnovateThink and Cisco.

I retained all editorial control.

9 Responses to “People and the Wild Internet of Everything”

  1. Darin Hawley

    Very much agree that humans are going to remain at the center of this revolution. Human-centered design will be increasingly important as we simultaneously need to make sense of more information while also becoming self-aware that having our noses in devices constantly is not healthy.

    The phrase “data literacy” threw me off a little though, especially when coupled with comments about connecting people and sharing knowledge. I suppose it was the word data that caught my attention, rather than information or knowledge (see DIKW). I think of data literacy as an analytical skill for converting raw data into information and knowledge, which may always require a special kind of person. The literacy I think that IoT will require, and as you pointed out, will be sense-making through conversation. I wonder if this be better termed “knowledge literacy”.

  2. Harold

    Beth Kanter used the term data literacy, so I followed up on it. I think my preference is network fluency, because the biggest challenge, in my opinion, is understanding the nature of networks.

    I have great difficulties with the concept of DIKW because I do not see a logical progression from one to the other. Data do not create information and knowledge does not create wisdom. However, data can become information if someone with knowledge examines them and makes sense of them. This is a significant part of PKM.

  3. Catherine Shinners

    It is interesting to wake up and find this blog post this morning – last evening I attended a stimulating panel discussion between several leading entrepreneurs in the commercial drone space. The technology of drones is evolving quickly, but the real value is how they will ‘instrument’ the world – or as Chris Anderson said – “the drone is just another vector to capture data” An educated and informed citizenry is important. While individuals and communities can and should develop ‘data literacy’, social and civic processes and institutions must evolve as well. I am not sure this tale of the ‘wild things’ will have a children’s story ending . Might the child become so instrumented he will be reduced primarily to be both a source of data and a stimulated entity to respond.

  4. Beth Kanter

    Contexts matter. Harold, I like your network fluency framing. I was doing a talk for data geeks on the “Human Side of Data of Good” which looked at the human and organizational culture issues that help or hinder humans from making good decisions based on data that lead to better outcomes. You see the post here and how I laid out the yin-yang of human data skills: But, that’s only area and what we’re talking about is much broader …

    • Harold

      Most interesting & thanks for sharing, Beth. Who knows how these tensions will play out in complex human environments? I like your reference to the Dilbert cartoon, as all the data in the world will not help people make decisions if their dogma or worldview cancels them out. Which of course brings back the need for data literacy and network fluency for all citizens.

  5. Jon Husband

    “”While individuals and communities can and should develop ‘data literacy’, social and civic processes and institutions must evolve as well. I am not sure this tale of the ‘wild things’ will have a children’s story ending . Might the child become so instrumented he will be reduced primarily to be both a source of data and a stimulated entity to respond.””

    Something I think it’s worthwhile to worry about, too.

  6. Jon Husband

    I’m currently reading “Uncharted – Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture” by Aiden & Michel

  7. Steve Prentice

    I have been using the term “literacy” when talking to my audiences, as a replacement for traditional literacy (reading, writing). I state that the capacity for humans to thrive will depend a great deal on being able to parse information in a timely fashion. I equate this to an individual who stands at the doorway of a library and has a panic attack, wondering how s/he will get through all of these books. Of course in an old-school, hard copy library, the culturally understood concept is not that 100% of the books must be read; but instead that individuals are comfortable navigating the library to locate areas of interest.
    When I address groups of people who express fear regarding information overload and the bewildering number of ways in which information can be delivered, I remind them that it’s comfort and eventual sophistication in navigation – not wholesale gluttony of every available piece of data – that will help them survive and thrive.
    Hence the term “literacy” whether used by itself, or as “data literacy,” is an essential component of humans’ growth and evolution: becoming comfortable with the increasing speed and amount of information available to them.
    The good news, I remind them, which circles back to your mention of the Turing test, is that the human brain is extremely good at noticing relevant bits of data, once properly acclimatized.
    The even better news is that literacy in this form opens channels for innovation and invention that were once closed by an existing hierarchy. Think, for example, of the notion of crowdfunding versus the more traditional style of applying for a business loan or grant. The latter is old-school, formalized and tightly controlled, whereas crowdfunding is open, demographic and all-inclusive.
    Literacy is an evolving and very human thing – a new definition of an old word – a new standard for learning and communication.


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