The internet of things: a critique of ambient intelligence and the all-seeing network of RFID

Delighted to see that my friend Rob van Kranenburg’s pamphlet, on the imminent arrival of the internet of things, has finally been published. I must confess I collaborated with Rob on the text and wrote the forward for him. You can download a PDF here.

Cities across the world are about to enter the next phase of their development. A near invisible network of radio frequency identification tags (RFID) is being deployed on almost every type of consumer item. These tiny, traceable chips, which can be scanned wirelessly, are being produced in their billions and are capable of being connected to the internet in an instant. This so-called ‘Ambient intelligence’ promises to create a global network of physical objects every bit as pervasive and ubiquitous as the worldwide web itself. Some are already calling this controversial network the ‘internet of things’, describing it as either the ultimate convenience in supply-chain management, or the ultimate tool in our future surveillance.

This network has the power to reshape our cities and yet it is being built with little public knowledge of consent. Rob van Kranenburg examines what impact RFID, and other systems, will have on our cities and our wider society; while also ruminating on what alternative network technologies could help safeguard our privacyand empower citizens to take power back into their own hands. It is both a timely warning and a call to arms.

The Internet of Things will be officially launched on Tuesday 28 October 2008 at 17h00 at the Waag Society, Theatrum Anatomicum, Nieuwmarkt 4, Amsterdam.

  • To receive a copy of The Internet of Things send an email to books (at)

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