Say what? The Lot? No, it’s I…O…T, the acronym for the Internet of Things. It is a thing unto itself. Here’s a civilian explanation.

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a vast number of “things” that are connected to the internet so they can share data with other things – IoT applications, connected devices, industrial machines and more. Internet-connected devices use built-in sensors to collect data and, in some cases, act on it. IoT connected devices and machines can improve how we work and live. Real-world Internet of Things examples range from a smart home that automatically adjusts heating and lighting to a smart factory that monitors industrial machines to look for problems, then automatically adjusts to avoid failures.[1]

The IoT is not a writer, at least not a human writer, but it can write. It does it without having taken English, scribbled a poem, written a story, or been rejected. It writes all by itself, with no typing, thinking, researching, editing, or publishing. It writes in “code.”

The IoT is written in Java. I didn’t even know that was a language.  Java, so I’m told, is widely used and taught in the programming world. Here’s how Java, a code, works in IoT applications:

They use an edited form, called Java Virtual Machine. Its pen name is JVM. Unlike those of us who write in Microsoft Word, JVM is a capability code. I think that means it can be transferred to any chip. Maybe that’s the engineering version of saving a Word document as a PDF. Anyhow, JVMs show up in things like computer servers and smartphones. It’s not hardware, like ballpoint pens and note pads. It’s software, which writers use for headaches and spell checking.

My focus is, as you know, not on the thing itself, but on the ethics of writing about it. Since it’s written in code and has chip capability, I suspect that when it comes to the ethics of writing about the IoT, the only ethical norms are those used by computer engineers when they switch from Word, or PDF, to Java and JVM. Believe it or not, they have a code of ethics. It was written in passive voice by the IEEE-CS/ACM Joint Task Force on Software Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices.[2]

The Preamble to their code, “summarizes aspirations at a high level of the abstraction; the clauses that are included in the full version give examples and details of how these aspirations change the way we act as software engineering professionals. Without the aspirations, the details can become legalistic and tedious; without the details, the aspirations can become high sounding but empty; together, the aspirations and the details form a cohesive code.”[3]

In short, their code is a code that forms a cohesive code. I guess software engineers do not follow Strunk & White’s ageless advice about omitting needless words or avoiding foreign languages.[4]

Their code has eight ethical norms, three of which seem consistent with non-IoT writers:

  1. They must advance the integrity and reputation of the profession consistent with the public interest.
  2. They must be fair to and supportive of their colleagues.
  3. They should participate in lifelong learning regarding the practice of their profession and promote an ethical approach to the practice of the profession.

They are not professional writers, as seen in how they write English, but they have ethics. They don’t flout their ethics, but there would be no IoT without them, just as there would be no robust writing community without Johannes Gutenberg. Without him and his 15th-century invention, we would not have Amazon, or the IoT.

Gary L Stuart

I am an author and a part-time lawyer with a focus on ethics and professional discipline. I teach creative writing and ethics to law students at Arizona State University. Read my bio.

If you have an important story you want told, you can commission me to write it for you. Learn how.



[3] Ibid.

[4] The Elements of Style—William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, the Macmillian Company, 1959, at xiii, xiv.