Pigeons Blogging About Air Pollution, Thanks IOT

The internet of things (IOT) is the next evolutionary stage of the internet, and involves the obliteration of the everyday passiveness of objects, inviting in an age where objects become active subjects. These active objects will have several distinct qualities, such as (Mitew 2014a):

  • Network addresses: so they are identifiable online
  • Sensory capacity: so they can register changes in their current environment
  • The ability to store and process information: so they can independently initiate action (actuate) based on the data stored and processed
  • Being remotely locatable: so they can be locatable in an environment
  • Having a semantic interface: so human interaction is possible with these active objects

These active objects continually collect sensory data and continuously share data online, where it gains value through the process of aggregation (Mitew 2014b).

Such an example might include the ‘Pigeon that Blogs’ (read more here, see it in action here), – project by Beatriz da Costa – a blogject that involves a flock of pigeons, equipped with GPS, GSM communications technology, and pollution sensors, that ‘blog’ about the pollution levels of the air they fly through, which they distribute by making the data available on something like a Google Map (Bleecker 2006, pg. 5).

These pigeons, considered pests by society, gain the status of first class citizenship as they acquire the ability to be sociable, they can now comment in conversations on matters of concern that they were once not privy to (Bleecker 2006, pg. 5, pg. 16).

In the future, active objects in the IOT will begin to add another layer and dimension to meaningful discussions as they contribute information that humans could never hope to put forward without their help in the first place. Like Bleecker, I too would like to know how we can harness the active objects of the IOT to help us in creating a more habitable world.


Bleecker, J 2006, A Manifesto for Networked Objects — Cohabiting with Pigeons, Arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Things, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp 1-16.

Mitew, T 2014a, The Internet of Things: From Networked Objects to Anticipatory Spaces [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 21 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tFTNJwlpOg&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=42

Mitew, T 2014b, The Internet of Things: From Networked Objects to Anticipatory Spaces [Part 2], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 21 October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sa_HHt-Voc&list=PLiPp71qLKusXOU1bKxHVappCbRNN3-J-j&index=43

Image By nottsexminer (Feral Pigeon Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons – *Note* I have modified this image.


7 thoughts on “Pigeons Blogging About Air Pollution, Thanks IOT

  1. Great work on this post about IoT. The use of pigeons to record air pollution issues is quite extraordinary. It’s incredible what people think of. Great addition of the links for further reading on the pigeons which definitely allowed me to look up more about it without having to actually do it myself. At first I definitely did not understand the meme (obviously) but after reading your post I got it- very creative. Overall great post!

  2. Dude, that technology is epic! Using wireless connectivity to accurately measure levels of pollution in the air, using pigeons is crazy. It accentuates how lazy human beings are getting – “should we build a plane or drone that can measure the polltion?”. “Nah, fuck it man, the pigeons aren’t doing anything”. In all seriousness the IoT is opening so many channels for everyday people in a sense that everything is becoming connected – much like McLuhan’s theory of a global village – it’s become a global network, and now including inanimate objects and other animals in this village.

  3. I have found your post incredibly interesting! Your meme drew my attention immediately and had me thinking “what the heck?!” Very humorous and effective! Your post was clear, concise and written well, and you added relevant detail where needed which was great. The Internet of Things is so mind-blowing (in my opinion at least) and I cannot begin to fathom the ideas people will generate next. Who knew pigeons could EVER gain first class citizenship? I loved the post, well done!

  4. This blog post was so interesting!
    your meme was funny and it was the reason why I started reading your blog, I mean a Pigeon blogging WHAT! haha
    you gave great examples and by reading this I have definitely learnt something new (I didn’t know about the pigeon technology)
    Awesome job!

  5. First off I must say the meme just fits into the piece so well and your title. Well done! I like the way in which you have structured your blog. The use of quotes and the hyperlinks are well on point. Your opening paragraph really took on the descriptive side of things to make me see it in a clear picture. The example which you have used was astonishing! I had never heard of such a thing and could not believe it! ‘These pigeons, considered pests by society, gain the status of first class citizenship…’ I love it! Great work!

  6. well this meme was eye catching to say the least, as well as humorous. The post itself was interesting and informative, with great sources and a great addition of extra readings on the topic. Well done

  7. Love your post on this one! A humorous and creative meme, and it makes me feel like The Internet of things seems like the lazy option to life. What will happen when all the advancements replacing our life skills and need for practical application? However I like the idea of some things being more of a guilty pleasure. Humans tend to not stop at trying anything. May one day it is not only the robots serving us, and I have to admit that it is great and interesting to have pigeons to record air pollution. Well, I feel like pigeons can do better than us. However, if this is going to happen in the not too distant future, we need to be careful not to become overly attached to the things and forget the important things in our lives. This is definitely a dark side of IoT. Anyhow, I hope that when we have ‘smart (everything)’, we, human are still smart too.

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