“The Energy Walk: Experimenting with Aesthetic Methods in STS”, by Line Marie Thomsen

Summery:

The article is covering an issue on the energy resources we are familiar with today and the development of new energy and it’s potential. The research group Alien Energy” has created “The Energy Walk”, a walk that takes its participants alongside the harbour area of the Danish town of Hanstholm while telling stories of energy and infrastructures, bot the visible and invisible infrastructures concerning energy resources. The walk is a merge of ethnographic method and intervention experiment, made into an aesthetic experience in showing the potential of new energy sources and convey information on the known resources.

Points of critique

 

  • The form

 

The article is introduced as a scientific paper. Reading through the article, the project is explained through a detailed description of the area Hanstholm and the walk made from complete field notes. The intention of merging the scientific point of view, the fact the The Energy Walk is being categorized as an aesthetic method and the fieldnotes is not properly used, as it makes the sections seem parted from each other. The individual sections is well functioning, but the shuffle between them makes the article a bit “cluttered”. A more detailed progression, could have helped taking the reader by the hand and made the arguments of the article much stronger. A stronger introduction of each section, focusing on the merging between the scientific thoughts and the walk in practice, could have outlined  the connection between the sections and the outcome of the article.

 

  • Quotation: “Listen… to my voice. […]”

 

Within the paper you are presented to quotations about the area and from the participants. The goal of these quotation is to set the stage for the reader. The chosen quotation is placed to emphasise the beginning of The Walk. It seems like the quotation could be shorten a little bit, as the first sentence makes such a strong argument on how that The Walk is built up. To me, the use of quotation in this article is not making her argument stronger, as it does not add up to her scientific thoughts. Implement this quotation, as well as the other used quotations, more into the text, by shortening it and use it active in the content, would have make the quotation stronger and contributed to a more organized and strong outcome.

 

  • Argument from the text: “Intervention as ethnographic method”

 

The argument is presented in the introduction and is not mentioned again until the end, although not those exact words, but as a part of discussion where the method is questioned. In last section “Aesthetic Method?” they question the method, but doesn’t mention the argument from the introduction, which makes the argument more vague then it would have been if it was present in the last paragraph. This is making the statement on what “The Energy Walk” could be classified as, as a method, a bit indistinct. The argument in itself is strong, and I think you could argue that, it is the same thing described in the paragraph “Aesthetic Method”, which is why a clearer state of mind from the author, sticking to her choice of method, could be combined in the section, to make et clearer on what the author is classifying the research as. The last paragraph could thereby be a conclusion instead of a new perspective to the project.

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Barbaraninocarreras

Summary

This text is a critique to the paper Ethical Design in the Internet of Things by Gianmarco Baldini, Maarten Botterman, Ricardo Neisse and Mariachiara Tallacchini published in 2016. The paper, open to everyone, covers privacy issues related to IoT (Internet of Things). Firstly the authors explain the concept of IoT and its perceived challenges, later they introduce the idea of Ethical Design and lastly they introduce Seckit as a tool for users and to approach regulatory purposes.

Critique

Opaque reflections on the process

At the beginning the authors provide two definitions of IoT (p. 2) but, why do they pick these ones? A guidance through their process could have help the reader understand why the authors write about Ethical Design in the first place and why do they pick this specific definitions? An example were the intentions of the writer remain unclear is when they express ‘the pervasiveness of Iot’. If the paper addresses everyone, why would they use this word instead of ‘widespread’ is there a negative connotation of the word?

Education to the users/citizens

The text explains very well the different aspects around IoT: new regulations (p. 3), the idea of context (p.5). Though, they do not focus on the education processes that can help users/ citizens today and how this ones relate to IoT. Its seems that this idea appears spread in different sections of the paper, for example, when the authors carefully illustrate on page 7, aspects related to the nature of the users and their capacities and how more qualified users are able to better control their privacy than others. Thus, interesting concepts arise: Incomplete information on the ‘consequence of data disclosure’, ‘Psychological biases’, ‘Accountability’, ‘on-line and off-line identity’ and ‘digital divide’. All these could conform a section focused on the user and education.

Reader considerations

As a reader, the first part of the paper becomes easy to read, the contextualisation bring strong arguments on why one should read it. Reflecting on regulations around privacy or referencing to surveillance mark the relevance of the subject. Nevertheless the lack of reflections or explanations behinds the author´s wishes or goals with this paper create certain distrust in the proposed tool at the end of the paper. It may seem that the paper is made to argument the tool, rather than the tool becoming a part of the possible approaches to the problem.

florianrammerstorfer1

In the article “Ethical Design in the Internet of Things” the authors suggest an ethical and implementable framework allowing users to manage and limit the access to private information gathered by the “Things”. Ethics are discussed to emphasize that every user has a different set of moral values, leading to differences in the desired privacy policies the necessity for customizability where the users are granted a higher degree of “individual freedom and choice”. There are a few challenges the framework needs to overcome. These include, but are not limited to, finding an economic incentive for businesses to implement the framework, giving the user enough information to make a rational decision on the policies and bridging the Digital Divide, the gap between experienced and inexperienced users. Furthermore, the open-source software SecKit is presented, which overcomes all of the previously discussed challenges.

My main issue with this is article is that it could be structured better. Especially having more chapters would benefit understanding and navigating through the article. The introduction chapter should be split up into different aspects, for example “Context” (Baldini et al., page 4) and “Flow of Data” (Baldini et al., page 5).

On page 3, the authors wrote: “The main features shared by these different categories of devices are the almost continuous connectivity through a wide range of wireless communications standards (e.g., WiFi, UMTS, LTE, ZigBee) and the capacity to collect data from the real world (e.g., camera) or to act on the real world (e.g., actuators like a domotic system to regulate the temperature of the house), including from an individual (e.g., a sensor collecting blood pressure readings at any time) or data that often can be related to each other through identification of time and (geo)location.”(Baldini et al., page 3) This sentence is hard to read, since the parenthesis break the flow of the reader. There are too many examples in the parenthesis and also too many parenthesis sections overall. I would split the sentence into two sentences or avoid writing examples at all. Since the examples further the understanding of the reader, splitting up the sentence is the best way to go. An example proposition for the correction would be: “The main features shared by these different categories of devices are the almost continuous connectivity through a wide range of wireless communications standards (e.g., WiFi, UMTS, LTE, ZigBee) and the capacity to collect data from the real world (e.g., camera) or to act on the real world (e.g., actuators like a domotic system to regulate the temperature of the house). Acting on the real world can originate from an individual (e.g., a sensor collecting blood pressure readings at any time) or data that often can be related to each other through identification of time and (geo)location.”

In several sections enumerations are used. For example, see this quote from page 17: “The deployment of the SecKit can be based on different scenarios: (a) the SecKit can be embedded in the design of the IoT device, (b) in the design of the IoT application or (c) can be installed and activated for specific calls and data flows by intercepting the Application Programming Interface (API) calls or the data flows at runtime…” (Baldini et al., page 17). In this and other longer sections, it is very hard to keep track of all the points when each point is presented in multiple lines. Therefore a different structure should be used, like  a bullet point list.

In conclusion, I can say that this article has a high contextual and literary quality and there are few things to criticize.