Tarot of Things

The Tarot of Things attempts to present a supernatural approach at the design of IoT devices and/or systems. Designed in a variant of Python using the Godot game engine, the game replicates a Tarot session between itself as a divinator and a connected IoT device. The deck used to fetch cards from is an appropriation of a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck redesigned to be more relatable to the Internet of Things.

Stemming from research in the use of Object-Oriented Philosophy as an approach to understanding alternative design practices for IoT, Tarot of Things becomes a work of philosophical carpentry. Carpentry in this aspect comes from an idea presented by Ian Bogost in his book Alien Phenomenology which discusses the crafting of artifacts with the intention of enacting philosophical arguments. As such the cards challenge the popular approach of human-centered design for IoT by presenting an opportunity for a discussion around a post-anthropocentric view of technology.

An example of the program can be experienced here with a random set of hard coded objects. Clicking the Reveal button presents a set of cards and their subsequent keywords which are extracted from traditional Tarot readings. The deck consists of 79 unique cards out of which 23 form the Major Arcana followed by 4 suites of 14 cards each for Cables, Chips, Clouds, and Sensors. (If the program below does not load, please refresh the page)

Towards the Divination of Things

An accompanying design fiction was created to imagine the workings of Tarot of Things as a service provided for human cohabiters of IoT. The world focused around Madame Bitsy’s Fantastic Future Forecasting and Fortune Telling Emporium for the Internet of Living Things a downloadable mobile app which facilitates private divinatory sessions between itself and surrounding IoT devices. The app takes on the guise of a fortune-teller named Madame Bitsy and engages selected IoT objects in conversation through Machine Learning. The concept is not designed to be accurate but instead takes on a playful air towards a philosophical discourse involving the agency of inanimate objects. The purpose of this design fiction was to encourage an alternative perspective of seeing through the eyes of an object. Further world building was done for the fiction by incorporating crafted news articles and paraphernalia for Madame Bitsy.