January 26, 2019

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Smarter Homes by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Good friend of mine Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino has taken her experience at the leading edge of the Internet of Things and with projects such as The Good Home and used it to inform a book that both looks back over the history of technology in the home and examines the recent developments and future trends in what our homes might look like and more importantly should look like.

Smarter Homes is a very readable take on how technology infuses our home lives. Hopefully my notes will give you a flavour of it.

Page 48
The phone directory became the first physical companion to a completely intangible interaction and the first home database. It was able to create a map for the community that was no longer defined by personal interactions but by how bold their name was or whether they'd bought advertising space.

Page 53
Apartment hotels were common in the late 1800s in cities across America, offering bedsits to young, unmarried, white collar professionals. In Paris they would be called "la chambre de bonne" and were often in the attic. Apartment hotels often focused on offering some level of bespoke services, with meals delivered by dumb waiters and laundry services delivered to the room.

Page 61, on the corporate visions of homes of the future
You could have progress but not social progress. The Summer of Love was around the corner, but in 1967, it was still important for a woman to play the role of the main consumer and curator of home experiences.

Page 67
Interior decor and food preparation are almost the only ways an owner can claim "ownership" and therefore identity-building inside a home. The [modern digital] technologies that are purchased have tended toward uniformity across all homes, especially the devices we have described so far: appliances, televisions, radios, and telephones. They denote access to enough capital to afford them but are not in themselves reflective of their owner's personality and impact.

Page 76
The 1988 book Smart House ends with a chapteron the potential applications in a Smart House,
and it's almost shocking to see how little has changed since those ideas were put down on paper.

Page 99
The idea that sharing something on the internet is enough illustrates a reality constructed by a culture of CAD and not a culture of manufacturing realities.

Page 139
Much of the new trends in home living are also a reflection of affluent, often white, middle class, childless people with more capital than their peers and mobile employment, which enables them to build completely different relationships with their homes than parents with young children or a retired person. These new bohemians emulate the 1970s hippy movement without needing to sacrifice on quality of life.

Page 143
Or perhaps the notifications now created by the multiplicity of mobile apps connected to the physical home space create a new landscape of attention and decision-making with which we can distract ourselves, or as Neil Postman would have it, amuse ourselves to death.

Page 146
The problem with this approach is that emergency situations happen in such a variety of ways that it is virtually impossible to get the right technology to help unless the home becomes a military zone. At worst, the family of an elderly person becomes a low-level ethnographer, trying to identify "unusual behaviour" in their elderly family member and dealing with the stress of plenty of false-positives. This can become more taxing than actually caring for them in person.

Reading the book, I was reminded of this song from the 60s, by Ninette...

Posted by Adrian at January 26, 2019 10:19 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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