The Problem with the Internet of Things

I arrived in San Antonio today to find an inbox full of increasingly-frantic messages from my parents wondering if I was dead.

My family had been monitoring my location on my Barnacle Driver Tracker page. Somewhere east of El Paso, T-Mobile’s coverage ended and it looked like I didn’t move for 6 hours.


The problem with the Internet of Things is that it provides just enough information to give the illusion of control. The user comes to rely on this incomplete information as a source of security.

I have a Gmail plug-in that tells me when message recipients have opened my email. Somehow, knowing that a correspondent has read my message makes me feel like I can influence the situation. Of course, the only thing I can do is agonize over the fact that someone is willfully ignoring me.

Logic would dictate that no response means the recipient doesn’t want to talk to me. I don’t need a Gmail plug-in to tell me that. Similarly, it would be quite sensible to assume that Elaine was doing just fine today. Even if my car was upside-down in a ditch, there wasn’t a whole lot my parents could have done about the situation. When our information source is taken away, we fight to regain the control we never really had.

Ashton Kutcher still hasn’t replied to the email I sent him last week, which means he probably slipped in the shower and died. I better drive to his house and check up on him.


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