An urgent and cautionary examination of the totalizing effect of smart home technology on the lives of those who live in them—and those who don’t
Smart homes are here—domestic spaces bristling with networked technologies that appear to enhance work, entertainment, logistics, health, and security. But these technologies may also extract a cost in attention, money, and privacy. In Threshold, communication and technology expert Heather Suzanne Woods applies rhetorical theory to answer the urgent question of how swiftly proliferating smart homes alter those who inhabit them.
Building on extensive research into smart homes in the United States, Woods recounts how smart homes arose and predicts the trajectory of their future form. She pulls back the curtain on the technology, probes who is in control, and questions whether a home can be too smart. She reveals how smart homes incentivize ubiquitous computing as a daily practice, priming smart home occupants for permanent transactional existence largely controlled by corporate interests.
Woods suggests a dynamic cultural framework for understanding smart homes that takes into account sociotechnical variables such as gender, class, income, race, criminal justice, and more through which smart homes shape human life. Woods’s framework reveals how smart homes both reflect social norms about technology as well as whet consumer appetites for an ever more totalizing relationship with technology. She argues that this progression leads to “living in digitality,” a cultural state of constant use and reliance on technology.
Written for homeowners, policymakers, technology enthusiasts, and scholars, Threshold interweaves meticulously researched critical analysis with matter-of-fact graphics that map relationships between digital tools and social life. Readers will appreciate this bracing assessment of smart technologies that empowers smart home users to make informed decisions about their dwellings.