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.