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Why the Internet of Things Is More 1876 Than 1995 142

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wait-until-the-singularity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Some folks would like you to think that 1995 was the year everybody was brought online and that, starting this year, we'll bring everything else along for the ride. If that seems far fetched to you, Glen Martin writes about how the Internet of Things has more in common with the age of steam than the digital revolution: 'Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition of 1876 was America's first World's Fair, and was ostensibly held to mark the nation's 100th birthday. But it heralded the future as much as it celebrated the past, showcasing the country's strongest suit: technology. ... While the Internet changed everything, says Stogdill, "its changes came in waves, with scientists and alpha geeks affected first, followed by the early adopters who clamored to try it. It wasn’t until the Internet was ubiquitous that every Kansas farm boy went online. That 1876 Kansas farm boy may not have foreseen every innovation the Industrial Revolution would bring, but he knew — whether he liked it or not — that his world was changing."'"
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Why the Internet of Things Is More 1876 Than 1995

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does Alpha geek really need to be a thing?

  • ...when Goatse was real and scared everybody off my lawn. Now that was automation!

  • Why the dumb name (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can we stop using these ridiculous buzz words/phrases?

    Internet of things? Really?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's as bad as calling every single motorized glue gun a "3D printer".
    • by plover (150551)

      What's wrong with Internet of Things? There are many "things" and they are now on the "Internet", even things that we never really expected to be online before. It carries meaning in a few short words.

      At least it's not stupidly cute.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Can we stop using these ridiculous buzz words/phrases?

      The Internet of Things is so 2013... I'm waiting for the Web of Things 2.0 myself.

    • Can we stop using these ridiculous buzz words/phrases?

      Internet of things? Really?

      How else would you describe items that makes themself profitable by Facebook, Gooogle and the like? Would you call them people?

      When people act like things, and becomes the very products sold by Big Corporations, I think the prase is accurate.

      Oh.. I just realized that this tread is about the internet of crap [betanews.com]!

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      There are two kinds of people: those who like it when new words and phrases enter the language, and then you have the alportnates.

    • by slapout (93640)

      Could call it Skynet, but I think that name is trademarked.

  • The one, single biggest weakness with the whole IoT-movement is the lack of any sorts of standards. Devices from one manufacturer use this protocol to talk to one another, the devices from another manufacturer use another protocol, neither of them can communicate with one another, and to top it off many devices even within a single manufacturer's own line of products don't know how to communicate amongst themselves. This means a huge, tangled mess of dozens of controlling applications and physical control-panels and whatnot, and it's all ripe with security-issues, too. With no standards or anything there's no logical way of controlling all of your IoT-devices in a unified way, let alone to control their security and updates.

    On a similar note, there was recently talk on Ars Technica about this subject when the CEO of WIFI Alliance tried to make the case that all IoT-devices should simply use WIFI, but that would be folly. His primary argument was that even though WIFI uses more power than e.g. Bluetooth-LE it provides more bandwidth and that the amount of power WIFI uses is irrelevant. That argument obviously ignores the fact that if, on average, every household in the future had e.g. approximately 50 IoT-devices in their homes we would then see the power-drain on the electric-networks increase by 50 * 117M ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ) * WIFI-power-drain just within the United States alone -- a definitely non-neglibigle amount. Also, your fridge, coffee-maker and the likes have absolutely zero need for all the bandwidth WIFI would bring, so Bluetooth-LE or something similar would be the saner choice -- less power-usage, still more than enough bandwidth for the small amount of data being transferred. However, you'd again need some sort of a bridge for bringing the WIFI-devices and Bluetooth-LE-devices together, and again, you'd need sane standards in order to come up with such bridges.

    I'm ranting a little, I haven't been sleeping too well and my thoughts are racing, but my point here is that even if the tech was there for the big push for IoT-devices we lack standardisation efforts, we lack the need for such devices, and I'm not sure the environmental costs would be worth the advantages either at this point in time.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      The one, single biggest weakness with the whole IoT-movement is the lack of any sorts of standards.

      The one, single biggest weakness with the whole IoT movement is the lack of any sort of use.

      I don't want my washing machine talking to my fridge and downloading malware from the Internet. I don't need to check whether the dryer has finished drying from my tablet. I don't need to turn my lights on and off from a hotel on the other side of the world.

      And I certainly don't want all those things open to remote access hacks.

      • The one, single biggest weakness with the whole IoT movement is the lack of any sort of use.

        I did mention that, too. I can't think of much use for IoT-devices myself, either, except for the fridge: it'd be handy if it reminded me of groceries that will be going bad in a day or two. I did read a blog-post from someone who bought a bunch of those smart-bulbs and programmed them to follow a specific schedule, like e.g. slowly rising in brightness when it's time to wake up in the morning, turning off automatically during work-hours, automatically setting a specific mood in the workroom and so on, but all that really works only for people who have very strict schedules. It's hard to think of cases where all the hassles of keeping the things working, updated and secure is worth the trouble in our daily lives.

        And I certainly don't want all those things open to remote access hacks.

        That's the thing I worry the most about. With lax security someone could just drive by your house, turn everything on, crank your thermostat to max. and so on, resulting in possibly burned-out machines, higher electrical bills, terrible nuisance when you're trying to sleep and so on. If IoT-devices were ever to become mainstream these kinds of things should first have to be solved in a standard, global manner.

        • I did read a blog-post from someone who bought a bunch of those smart-bulbs and programmed them to follow a specific schedule, like e.g. slowly rising in brightness when it's time to wake up in the morning, turning off automatically during work-hours, automatically setting a specific mood in the workroom and so on, but all that really works only for people who have very strict schedules. It's hard to think of cases where all the hassles of keeping the things working, updated and secure is worth the trouble in our daily lives.

          Or you could do like I do and buy a few outlet timers at Clas Ohlsson for about 8 bucks a pop.

        • by smelch (1988698)
          Why on Earth would your refrigerator have to be online to keep track of food expiration dates? Can't you use a tablet, phone or PC to keep track of that?
          • by donaldm (919619)

            Why on Earth would your refrigerator have to be online to keep track of food expiration dates? Can't you use a tablet, phone or PC to keep track of that?

            Err! wouldn't it be easier to write on the packages or containers if they don't have expiration date. Or just take a tentative smell on a regular basis and throw-out the foodstuff that has gone off or has mould growing on it ;). Having a policy of cleaning and checking your fridge at least once a month can save an embarrassing trip to the toilet or in severe cases the Doctor and it definitely beats maintaining a database/spreadsheet of your fridge.

            • by Holi (250190)

              No shit, do we really need computers to take over for our common sense?

              • As someone who has had to live with some pretty disgusting roommates, I would pay a premium for a fridge that automatically discarded moldy food and not have to argue about who gets to decided what's too moldy: the fridge decided and I threw it out!

                Also, just last week I had something (I forget what, happens every few months) hidden behind some jars until it rotted and I had already bought another one. If it had had an RFID tag, I'd just ask my fridge if I had one, where it was and how long until it officia

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              The premise with the refridgerators keeping track of experation dates is that they would use and RFID type technology in the food product packaging, so you wouldn't keep a database of your food. The database would happen automatically.
            • I think the smart fridge thing is more interesting for inventory management at your local grocery store, than for an individual person. It would be worth a lot to them to be able to track when people are going to run out of specific items, so they can have the right amount of inventory at right time.

              OTOH, almost every time I go grocery shopping, I buy something I wouldn't have needed yet, simply because I didn't remember if I had it or not and get one just in case. So being able to check your fridge content

            • by Agent0013 (828350)
              I know. Which is more work? Checking through the fridge once a month for food that has expired, or making sure you enter the name and expiration date of every item ever placed into the fridge. Now, getting home late from a nice restaurant with leftovers involves at least 5 minutes of data entry rather than just open door, put food in, shut door. I'll take the simple method thanks. Until Watson (The IBM AI) is small enough to fit in the fridge and smart enough to know what you put in by looking at it with a
          • by swb (14022)

            And it would be of zero use for leftovers, unless you think they're going to put programmable RFID tags in ziploc bags and reusable containers.

            Even using another device to manually track them sounds like more work than the reward. It reminds me of recipe database apps -- it's easier to do like my wife does, cut out the recipe from a newspaper or magazine and put it into a sheet protector in a three ring binder.

            Even if you had an application that made it easy to enter the data, now you have an app to maint

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Is someone wants to destroy your home or property, they don't need a computer hack to do it.
        • Home automation is getting there in terms of standardization, ease of use, and maintainability (not quite there yet, though!). I've built a setup that is affordable and has actual use in the form of comfort, convenience, and energy savings. But the main stumbling block is that you still have to tell the system what you want, i.e. there's some programming involved if you want to go beyond a remotely controllable home towards an automated home. That's not just about schedules, but also about logic: "don't
          • "don't set off the lawn sprinklers if it's going to rain".

            Actually, by law, people in my state are required to have rain sensors installed as part of their systems. Although from what I've seen, businesses don't.

            What frustrates me is that I could do a fairly satisfactory job of automating my home. I have suitable control and sensor devices. But the available program control modules to orchestrate them are over-priced and unreliable.

        • I did read a blog-post from someone who bought a bunch of those smart-bulbs and programmed them to follow a specific schedule, like e.g. slowly rising in brightness when it's time to wake up in the morning, turning off automatically during work-hours, automatically setting a specific mood in the workroom and so on, but all that really works only for people who have very strict schedules. It's hard to think of cases where all the hassles of keeping the things working, updated and secure is worth the trouble in our daily lives.

          I put bunch of X-10 stuff in my house in 1994, including a system that would fade up lights at programmed times, or on demand, etc. It was all very cool, and worked well for about a year, until the widgets started crapping out - relays went bad, comm links never were terribly reliable, etc. By 1996, I had deactivated all circuits but one - the 220V relay that switched my AC unit off/on by schedule was both reliable, and worth fixing if it ever broke (though it never did) due to the energy savings.

          Meanwhil

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't need to check whether the dryer has finished drying from my tablet.

        Unlike you I've got better things to do than spend my day leaning against the dryer while it rumbles. I'd appreciate a message letting me know it's done. Goes the same for preheating the oven, but most people don't get off on that.

        The question is if I'm willing to pay a multi-hundred-dollar premium for these alerts, especially in light of the fact that none of the equipment is compatible or secure. Right now, that answer is no. I

        • I'm not sure what decade you're from, but my washer and dryer both have digital countdown timers and chime when they need attention. Same goes for the oven. I most certainly don't need an appliance that's designed to last 20 years to be infested with a wireless communication standard that will be hopelessly outdated in five years.
          • I have an analog countdown timer. And a very obnoxious mechanical buzzer.

            But a previous poster who lives in an apartment complex made a good point. If you're doing laundry in your own home and the laundry room isn't too isolated from where you're spending your time, in-unit annunciators are fine. On the other hand, if you're using a laundromat in a completely separate building, getting an SMS when the cycle is done means that you could be doing better things with your time than sitting in the laundromat.

        • by AudioEfex (637163)

          The person you replied to, though - has a great point regarding the general acceptance and "need" of such things. You obviously aren't the "general audience" when you talk about installing vibration sensors on your dryer and installing hardware onto your stove.

          I don't "spend my day leaning against the dryer", for example, as I don't have time for that, either - if I set it for 50 minutes, I go back 50 minutes later. If I don't feel like looking at one of the many clocks in my home, I can set an alarm w

          • by jrumney (197329)

            Or, since I don't have 17 kids I am doing laundry for, I just go back down to the dryer when I am ready - which can be six hours later.

            That works for the dryer, but not so well for the washing machine, unless you don't mind your clothes smelling a bit moldy.

            • That works for the dryer, but not so well for the washing machine, unless you don't mind your clothes smelling a bit moldy.

              I've accidentally left the wash in the washing machine for a few days, and it was fine... that's in Denver.

              But I know exactly what you are talking about since I also at one point lived in Houston.

              Anyone, not everyone has washed clothes needing critical attention.

            • by Sentrion (964745)

              Last I checked my wet laundry didn't start to mold after just six hours. But I guess the IoT could be helpful for people with early state Alzheimer's,

              • Last I checked my wet laundry didn't start to mold after just six hours. But I guess the IoT could be helpful for people with early state Alzheimer's,

                Mold, maybe not. But those of us in warmer climes can see - or at least smell - it get really sour after only about 3.

          • I think the main value will be in the interface. My dishwasher, washing machine etc have rudimentary interfaces. Just as TV's used to have controls which moved to the remotes (some TVs do not operate without a remote), the same thing will happen to devices. Those interfaces on the device are expensive so there is a saving there.

            The other, perhaps more useful thing, is to make them better at power saving. The smarter the device, the easier it is to intelligently reduce power consumption. That is somethin

        • by Holi (250190)

          Don't all dryers have a buzzer that goes off when the cycle is done? And if your not home, hwat are you going to do, drop what your doing a run home because your dryer finished?

          Really all I can see this doing is increasing the cost of appliances while offering no actual benefit.

        • nlike you I've got better things to do than spend my day leaning against the dryer while it rumbles. I'd appreciate a message letting me know it's done. Goes the same for preheating the oven

          Your appliances don't buzz/chime?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Unlike you I've got better things to do than spend my day leaning against the dryer while it rumbles.

          Every dryer I've ever owned has had a very loud buzzer that informed me that the clothes were dry, no matter where in the house I was. As to preheating the oven, my phone has an alarm clock. That works fine for reminding me the oven is hot. That, and the smell of its last pizza.

          I see no utility at all.

          I do want a smart refrigerator, but not one hooked to the internet. I've wondered for YEARS why fridges don'

      • by Kvan (30429)
        The "connected home"-type applications are not where the value is. The big value is in areas like the supply chain, manufacturing, agriculture, retail - most industries could remove significant waste with access to IoT-style data.
    • by iamwahoo2 (594922)

      There are standards in place (or at least in mature draft form), but I agree with your general sentiment.Those predicting that we will see an overnight transformation (I think Cisco predicted $14 Trillion in value creation of the next 10 years?) are probably not being realistic. Bridging Bluetooth-LE to the internet - see IETF draft spec for 6LoWPAN for BTLE (6LoWPAN = IPv6 for low power personal area networks). Wifi works in some use cases. If the device only connect once every 10 mins, then it does not co

    • by bkmoore (1910118) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @02:31AM (#46215601)

      ....CEO of WIFI Alliance tried to make the case that all IoT-devices should simply use WIFI...Also, your fridge, coffee-maker and the likes have absolutely zero need for all the bandwidth WIFI would bring, so Bluetooth-LE or something similar would be the saner choice....

      Not a troll, but a genuine question. If all these devices are connected to AC power, why not some simple protocol over power line? A lot of home automation used some form of RS-232 over power line to control lighting, etc.

      • Powerline ethernet seems to be an established standard (I think you can use endpoints from different manufacturers?), it seems a way better network transmission source than WiFi, which has to be configured to access.

        I would say perhaps they should consider light fixture networks, but often things like a fridge are not in an area where a light would be on when you'd want an alert from it (like the temperature had increased over a threshold).

    • The recent alliance of the Allseen and Qeo ecosystems is trying tp reach just that: a single standard:

      https://allseenalliance.org/an... [allseenalliance.org]

      so, there is hope yet :-)

  • Steam (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday February 10, 2014 @11:42PM (#46214959) Homepage

    "Internet of Things has more in common with the age of steam than the digital revolution"

    Look, I don't know what you kids are using these days, but I still buy all my games on Steam just like they did in 1876.

  • What would be the point of continuing to read/use Slashdot after Beta becomes mandatory?

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @12:40AM (#46215249) Homepage

    The article is just blithering without much useful content. They couldn't even get the right illustration. The steam engine shown is just some random engine with Corliss valve gear. This is the engine that powered much of the 1876 exhibition. [gutenberg.org] It was big, impressive, and inefficient, even for that exhibition.

    The "Internet of Things" may be the Next Big Thing from the industry that brought you 3D TV.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      3DTV is nice. The only really problem with it is that the TVs won't automatically merge two different inputs into a single "3D" feed so that I can wear a left only set of glasses while my wife wears a set of right only glasses.
    • by LimnThis (1248750)
      You're absolutely right, we used the wrong picture. Unfortunately I didn't notice until it went out the door. Mea culpa. I can't find a link at the moment but my understanding is that that Corliss Engine was purchased after the exhibition and used till the 1930's.
  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @12:49AM (#46215293) Homepage Journal

    When are they going to accept the fact that there is absolutely no need for 99.999% of the population to ever check the internet for the status of their dryer, their dishwasher, their fridge, their freezer, or their toaster oven and microwave.

    It is the single most over-rated, over-sold, over-hyped, and absolutely useless concept ever brandished by the technocrati. The only ones who care about the concept at all are people who want to sell you stuff that is "internet aware."

    • Generally I agree with you that most things do not need to be "Connected".

      But I have to admit a microwave with a self-setting clock would be nice. And I also wouldn't mind a fridge that would alarm on component failure (as I just had a fridge go out).

      But the degree to which they are connecting these things, is way over the top.

      • by vandamme (1893204)

        A clock that receives WWV and sets itself is very cheap and effective. a red light on a fridge could tell you it's broken. Why do you need to connect to the internet?

        • a red light on a fridge

          Which I would be able to see while on vacation how again?

          Also, what does the red light mean? That's as useless as a check engine light, only without a network connection I can't even get a code.

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      But if I want to impulsively spend $0.99 to download the new pulse based toasting algorithm that leaves the surface extra crispy while leaving the bread beneath soft and chewy, that is my right and darn you for standing in the way of progress. Plus, I need IoT to give me ideas for stuff to post on Twitter and Facebook. "I downloaded my new toasting algorithm" is going to be way cooler than "I'm eating another veggie delight - guess where I am!".

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      about 10 years ago in college we toyed with the idea of a washer/dryer status monitor for the dorm, since we could not modify campus equipment our solution was to stick a network aware ammeter in front of the washers and dryers, then have a computer watch the changes in current to count how many dryers were on and how many and what stage in the cycle the washers were on.

      this was long before arduino made projects like that cheap and reliable, and we were never able to get permission to install something l
    • When are they going to accept the fact that there is absolutely no need for 99.999% of the population to ever check the internet for the status of their dryer, their dishwasher, their fridge, their freezer, or their toaster oven and microwave.

      Don't care. I still want to check the status of my dryer on via internet. And I'm still going to sell my neighbor on how great it is to sit upstairs and monitor the dryness of my clothes from my computer and so he should totally buy my tripped out dryer monitor project.

      I, and I think "they," totally accept your fact. We just don't care. We like playing with computers and were going to continue to put them everywhere so we can play with them in new ways and we are going to talk on the internet about how fun

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @12:52AM (#46215307) Homepage Journal

    What everyone misses is the magic of Kansas City. Everything's up to date in Kansas City. They gone about as fer as they can go. They went an' built a skyscraper seven stories high. About as high as a buildin' orta grow.

  • I've a dozen eggs, true
    But they're all cracked
    My Frigidaire
    A subtle hack
    BURMA SHAVE

    (Your turn, Smitty...)

  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @01:45AM (#46215473) Journal

    My great-grandfather graduated from Milwaukee High School in 1878. He first attended a "normal school" with the intent of becoming a teacher, but found the opportunity to learn stenography and to operate a writing machine. The Scholes & Glidden machine had been developed in Milwaukee in 1874, and the manufacturers set up schools to teach students how to use them. These were very temperamental machines and were tricky to use. (At that time, you could not see the text that had been typed without lifting the platen). His first professional job was as a type-writer for the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in New Haven, Connecticut. Meanwhile, his long-time pen-pal in Chicago had learned how to use the machines at her father's office. They began exchanging letters in type-written form, which must have been considered, for that time, as high-tech as any Internet romance would have been in 1995. They were married in 1883. My great-grandfather and his brother-in-law went into business together, selling the machines across the Midwest.

    • by mjwx (966435)
      But did they have an onion tied to their belts, which was the style at the time
      • in fact, this article really suits the 'old man yells at cloud' motif!

        cloud. heh.

      • by Sentrion (964745)

        Onions? Those weren't onions, son, those were balls. Men used to have those back before Twitter and nerd camp. It took a real man to type 80 WPM on a mechanical typewriter, or one sturdy broad. That is nothing like a wimpy keyboard or even an electronic typewriter like your hippie father used to fondle. And you had to pay attention to what you were doing or you could lose a finger! Today's brats might lose a finger from atrophy since they only use their thumbs now on a piece of touch sensitive glass.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Typewriter - BAH! Linotype was the manly way to publish. Hot liquid metal coming out of a furnace. And none of this pansy iron or steel. Lead. The kind that would drop your IQ 10 points if you looked at it wrong. On the plus side, your page of composed text could be used for nuclear reactor shielding or to line your bunker when the bombs dropped.

          • Ah, lead. Sugar of Lead (lead acetate) has been a popular artificial sweetener since Roman times. If your ancestors were anything more than peasants, they drank it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is, really, clearly and terribly useful about "the internet of things" to begin with? At most, it seems mildly more convenient. Would I like to control my thermostat via my phone? Sorta, kinda, a little. Would I like to check in my fridge via webcam for milk while I'm at the store? I guess that's a little neat. Would I like to control my toaster via my smartphone? Unless I can control the bread, and jam, and the knife spreading it, then no.

    It's mild convenience at best. Don't know why people are gettin

  • That's why I'm keeping my bellbottoms.

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