Understanding the Connected Home: The Book!

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In May 2015, the science fiction author Bruce Sterling gave a keynote at ThingsCon, a conference about the internet of things and maker culture that Peter co-organizes in Berlin. In his talk, Bruce introduced a new project he had been working on with his partner Jasmina Tesanovic: Casa Jasmina1, the open source connected home of the future. It's a unique research project, an open source investigation of the connected home.

It's time to live the life. Just go ahead and build the products and see if you can survive being in a room with them. This is our test bed. — Bruce Sterling at ThingsCon

A few weeks later, in June 2015, we flew to Turin, Italy, along with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, to visit this live-in lab Casa Jasmina and spend some time with the team. We were curious to see how it would be to live in and contribute to this home of the future. Casa Jasmina is a ground breaking lab for exactly these questions, and we're very grateful we got to experience it so early on.

Ever since visiting Casa Jasmina, there are questions that wouldn't leave us alone. There hasn't been a day where the "connected home" hasn't come up, where we haven't been trying to get closer to figuring out answers, or at least better questions.

How do we interact with a connected home? How does the space, and the things in it, communicate what's expected of the person who live there? What are the ground rules and who has permission to change them? What objects require interaction and what doesn't? How, in other word, do we know how to build and live in a connected home?

We asked a great number of smart and experienced people for their thoughts. It slowly emerged that it's an area that might just not be fully explored yet. An area that in fact we have just begun to explore at all.

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We know that connectivity increasingly makes its way into our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. Into our smoke detectors, lights, door locks, kitchen scales and ovens. We bring in more connectivity through fitness tracking wristbands and our phones and tablets, and take it along when we get into the driving computers that are our cars.

Understanding the connected home – how it can be structured it, how it can be designed, how we can engage with it and turn it off – these questions will be essential for living in this century.

This publication kicks off an exploration of various aspects of the connected home. It started out as a series of blogposts, but it became clear that we would want to increase the scope. So in a one week book sprint, we put down the ground work for an ongoing research project.

This collection of content – we consider it a 0.9 version of a book that is still in beta – will help us map out the terrain, and start conversations with future collaborators. It also serves as a pool of content that is still under development.

We don't know yet where it will lead us, but we invite you to come along for the ride and join the conversation.

We keep writing this in public on Gitbook, and license the content under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license (BY-NC), so you can adapt and re-use the texts, too. If you'd like to get more heavily involved, please get in touch.

Peter Bihr & Michelle Thorne
Berlin, September 2015

theconnectedhome kindle cover photo

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