Imagine a world constructed for people other than you.  Like other people, you likely had no voice in how this world operated. But unlike most other people, this world does not reflect your values. It is portrayed as an exciting new paradigm.  Most other people accept or even support it.  No one seems concerned that you, and people like you are ignored, or excluded.

You’d like to contribute to building the new world.  You offer ideas. But other people shout them down as impractical. They complain accommodating your perspective is too costly. When you express concerns over the “vibe” of the new world, they ridicule you.

That’s pretty much my experience being left-handed.

But I personally don’t feel alienated from my world. I make adjustments. And my world validates much of who I am.

But imagine that your world ignored much of who you are.  How would you, and others like you, contribute to the new paradigm?

Casa Jasmina arose for just this purpose.

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“Casa Jasmina” is a two-year pilot project in the business space of domestic electronic networking, or, “the Internet of Things in the Home.” Our goal is to integrate traditional Italian skills in furniture and interior design with emergent skills in Italian open-source electronics.The project is a showplace inside the large industrial building already shared by Toolbox Co-Working, Fablab Torino and Officine Arduino.
Casa Jasmina showplace has three main functions:

  • A real-world testbed for hacks, experiments and innovative IoT and digital fabrication projects.
  • A curated space for public exposure of excellent artifacts and best practices.
  • A guest-house for occasional visitors to Toolbox, Officine Arduino and
    Fablab Torino.

Although it resembles an apartment home, Casa Jasmina is actually a combination of lab, gallery space and B&B, so it needs dynamic management. Casa Jasmina is not merely a kitchen, library, bedroom, and bathroom. It’s a public interface for a larger Internet-of-Things process of building things, acquiring installing things, removing things, repairing and maintaining things, storing things, recording and linking to things, and, last but very importantly, getting rid of things.

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The “Internet of Things” is a platform cloud that is also a conceptual box.   That is its nature as “the IoT”: it is a digital platform for software, it is wireless, computational and data-centered, and it is also a paradigm.

This is why, as I explored a kind of third road between feminism and design, an “Internet of Women Things” occurred to me.  Could this “IoWT” become a generous place for conceptual projects, ideas and advice, for a sense of emotional beauty and purposeful living?  Concepts like these are not often the first impulses for a technology project, but they generally last the longest.

The IoWT is something I saw in the fog, as a “cloud” that is also on the ground.  The IoWT might even be an “underground” cloud in some way, of not just airy ideals but of suppressed female energies.

Do you feel this gender divide as I do? I don’t lack for help from the capable male “Jasmini” but I need women to come to live with me, to talk with me.   Thank you!

An Internet of Things cannot be merely by and for web technologists, for it embraces-and-extends not just “Things” but also us women, as well as children, or animals or plants, or robots…  Right now, my strong belief is that “the IoT” is dangerously outside of women’s world-views.  The IoT is so alienating, and so narrowly obsessed with today’s technical and economic needs, that it might well fail altogether.    It would be a shame if its profound potential was lost for a generation, in a heap of failed, too-ambitious toys, as happened to similar tech visions such as Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence.

Home automation is decades old and has failed many times, enough to fill a science-fiction museum with archaic streamlined pushbuttons.   But lack of effort is not comfort, idleness is not wealth, and too many mouse-clicks, like too many butlers, can rob life of its intimacy and dignity.  Networks and systems that connect in opaque ways, that camouflage digital decisions, can crash and burn in spectacular fashion; a thousand invisible computers can fail in tangled, thorny ways that a single one never will.  When each thing chaotically hooks to a hundred others, what becomes of accountability?  If we build human-free systems without an off-switch or an undo button, how will we stop when we err, how will we express regrets and make amends?  If we hide from our own needs and desires in tangles of software, how will we even know that we have prevailed?

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At Arduino we are proud of the swarm of projects developed every day by the community. We believe in the enabling power that Arduino and digital manufacturing tools give to Makers, people making objects and services to meet their own needs. Digital fabrication tools hosted in places like fablabs and makerspaces make technology more accessible and usable.With Casa Jasmina, we want to promote this practice in a house. Enabling people to define their domestic needs and use technology to satisfy them. We believe that Arduino and fabrication tools, with open-source approaches and user-centered design practices, can transform everyday life in the home. Inside Casa Jasmina we want to exhibit the best projects in this area of the IoT. Makers, designers, artists can join Casa Jasmina and help us shape the open source connected home and explore its potential.

Photo by brewbooks

Photo by @alaina

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