The 2018 Tillydrone Gala Day (held on the 23rd of June) was a day of sun and music, activities and animals. For a couple of us from the TrustLens project, it was also an opportunity to open up some more conversations with neighbourhood residents about how they think about relationships between things, data, and themselves. Armed with our IoT Dollhouse and a new tool in our kit (the Wheel of Things), we spent the day asking people whether sheep can have IoT sensors (surprisingly, sometimes yes!), if they’ve seen the people-counting bollard in their neighbourhood (as reported on in the Winter 2017 TillyTattle), and how they felt about the potential for their coffeepot to collect and share information on them.
In keeping with much of what we’ve heard over the past few activities, the answer we often heard was: It depends! Who’s collecting the data? What do they need it for? Will it disadvantage me or my community in any way, or can it help us out somehow? Would I have to take part?
These and other questions we were asked make it even clearer that: 1) Comfort with and trust in the IoT isn’t just about the technology, but also how technology and data are managed. 2) Control and knowledge are key points for communicating activities made possible by the IoT – do people feel as though they have enough information to decide how they want their information to be used, and do they have the control to actually make those decisions?
At the Gala, we had opportunities to speak with people who had never heard of our project, as well as with some who have been involved since the beginning. The common themes that emerged from our conversations made it clear to us that we’re asking questions that are useful and relevant. Hopefully we’ll continue to hold these conversations with a wide variety of people – whether in the presence of symphonic versions of ‘500 Miles’ or not!