ConComCow – Connecting Communities in Coworking recognizes the fundamental changes that are shaking up our society, and which can even threaten our very existence. The way out is counter intuitive. In short, we need to forget about the things. We need to stop obsessing over smart objects, and start thinking smart about people. Forget the Internet of Things (IoT) – we need an internet of people. Gartner predict that by 2018, 6 billion connected objects will be requesting support – meaning that strategies, technologies and processes will have to be in place to respond to them. It will become necessary to think of connected devices less as things, but more as customers and consumers of services in themselves – and as such in need of constant support. What if we could design objects that utilised the internet in truly smart, differentiated ways, while also communicating their own function? And we could understand this function intuitively, effortlessly? And what if these objects showed us – actually showed us, through their design features, their data flows and their legally -binding background conditions – how our information is being used, who can access it, where it is going, and why?

The technological and societal changes of the 21st Century will present new risks and opportunities. For example, disruptive technology like a.i (artificial intelligence) can extend our powers, senses and even humanity, yet it also can parasite on us. We experience that we work in a brave new world, with new dynamics and a lot more promise for change. Civil society roles are blurring, sources of social capital are changing in an increasingly global, hyperconnected and multistakeholder world. Within the complex ecosystem of myriad civil society activities and relationships, some actors, such as faith and religious cultures, as well as social media communities and networks, are starting to play an enhanced role. We work in networks of economic sharing and environmental stewardship at the forefront of policymaking and glocal governance. We connect humans, develop different skills and search for new policies.

If we want to have an effect on poverty, hunger, human trafficking, immigration, labor rights, the torture of political prisoners, the economic development of our cities and region, education, healthcare and climate change, we have to work in networks. We’re all on a learning curve in here and we think that our society should become even more connected, not only through large social networks, wireless technology and massive amounts of big data but above all, by connecting humans. We see a rapid expansion of devices and sensors connected to the Internet of Things. This data will hold extremely valuable insights into what’s working well or what’s not. Artists, designers, philosophers, lawyers, psychologists and social workers must be just as involved as engineers and internet users in shaping our collective future and digital society. It could become an internet, not of smart things, but of wise, empowered people.