Friday, August 2, 2013

Logjects

The term logject seems to be an invention of Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin. It refers to "everyday objects" whose work includes "recording and communicating their use." He explains:
The easiest way to introduce the notion of a logject is to consider the ways in which the embedding of software is changing the nature of everyday objects. Many objects now have software physically embedded into their material form. On the one hand software is used to enhance the functional capacity of what were previously ‘dumb’ objects enabling them to sense something of their environments and to perform different tasks, or the same tasks more efficiently, or to be plugged into new distributed networks that afford some value-added dimension such as data exchange on how they are used. On the other hand, software is used to underpin the design and deployment of new classes of objects, particularly mobile devices (such as PDAs, MP3 players, Satnav), that in some cases replace analogue equivalents (diaries and filofaxes, personal tape and CD stereos, paper maps and gazetteers) or undertake entirely new tasks.
The belong to a class of things that they call "codejects," distinguishing between
  • "Hard codejects that rely on firmware to function but are not programmable and therefore have low levels of interactivity (e.g. a USB memory stick)."
  • Unitary codejects, i.e. programmable devices that "exhibit some level of interactivity, although this is typically limited and highly scripted, and they do not record their work in the world."closed codejects that work independently of the world around them (e.g., alarm clock, CD player)." There are closed ones (like an alarm clock) and open ones (like a digital thermostat). And finally
  • there codejects "that have an ‘awareness’ of themselves and their relations with the world and which, by default, automatically record aspects of those relations in logs that are stored and re-used in the future. More specifically, a logject is (1) uniquely identifiable, (2) has awareness of its environment and is able to respond to changes in that environment that are meaningful within its functional context, (3) traces and tracks its own usage in time and/or space, (4) records that history, (5) can communicate that history across a network for analysis and use by other agents (objects and people), (6) can use the data it produces to make automated, automatic and autonomous decisions and actions in the world without human oversight, (7) is programmable and thus mutable to some degree."
Logjects are for collecting "useful information, and the question is, of course, useful for whom.

A Kindle (which is discussed in the post) seems to be a logject and the information it collects about the purchase of books and the notes taken is not just useful to the owner, but also to Amazon (and other parties).

I find the conception of a "logject" intriguing, though I am not sure how useful it will ultimately be (for me).

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