Berlin “IoT Manifesto”

Emerging from ThingsCon in Berlin, a group of designers have put forward the “IoT Design Manifesto 1.0”.  Subtitled, “Guidelines for responsible design in a connected world”, this is a simple set of ten principles and a “code of conduct” that should be applied in the design of the Internet of Things.

The designers, like myself, are concerned about the “Internet of Things” (and wearable computing and whole body computing), which are intimate and ubiquitous, and create unprecedented products and environments. They want to “help create balanced and honest products in a burgeoning field with many unknowns.”

They are also attempting to place thoughtful designers at the center of development, criticizing the bone-headed land rush mentality of so much technically led development. As Kyle VanHemert remarks in Wired.com, “The problem here isn’t maliciousness so much as obliviousness.”

The 10 principles are:

  • We don’t believe the hype
  • We design useful things
  • We aim for the Win-Win-Win
  • We keep everyone and every thing secure
  • We build and promote a culture of privacy
  • We are deliberate about what data we collect
  • We make the parties associated with an IoT product explicit
  • We empower users to be the masters of their own domain
  • We design things for their lifetime
  • In the end, we are human beings.

Sign me up! In fact, I already signed the electronic manifesto!

I love the fact that they start with skepticism (the manifesto comments, “just slapping the Internet onto a product isn’t the answer”) and end up at humane and human and humanity (“it is our responsibility to use design to help people, communities, and societies thrive”).

Along the way, they touch on the most critical issues about security, privacy, and empowerment. I’m particularly happy to see item 7, “We make the parties associated with an IoT product explicit”, a responsibility to make “the flow of information among stakeholders” visible and understandable to everyone. Hear, hear!

These principles are scarcely novel. Any adequately educated designer (or extraordinarily educated engineer) will already know them very well. But the enthusiastic kids and clueless managers need to be reminded that we are messing with deep and broad waters here, and need to think carefully about what and how we do it.

Join us!

IoT Design Manifesto 1.0 [pdf]

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