Activism and the Internet of Things

Abstract from a draft paper submitted for review to The Fibreculture Journal - email me dan [AT] for a copy. 
In this paper I examine the entanglement of activism and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is one of several terms used to describe a world pervaded by embedded computational devices that are connected to the internet. I define the term and give examples of current Internet of Things devices, as well as the outlining the development of wearables (wearable computing devices). I consider activism to be forms of action aimed at making a direct social change as opposed to, for example, electoral politics. Drawing on Foucault I make the argument that activism and the Internet of Things are always already entangled at both a pragmatic and a philosophical level. From a surveillance point of view, it may be clear that some of this entanglement will inhibit activism. I frame further implications along those lines with regard to governmentality and algorithmic regulation. However, I also claim that the Internet of Things is an opportunity for activism as it as, and for additional forms of activism enabled by these technologies. The practice of an activist Internet of Things is mobilised through the philosophy of de Landa and the practical examples of hacktivism and hackerspaces. Beyond this, I suggest that the broader benefits of the Internet of Things to activism can come through a practical politics of infrastructures. I articulate this through the political philosophy of Gustav Landauer, in particular the notion of structural renewal. I conclude by connecting this structural renewal to the idea of the commons.