Kia ora. Welcome.

Counting Sheep: NZ Merino in an Internet of Things was a three-year research project (2011-2014), based in Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design. Led by Dr Anne Galloway, our work explored the role that cultural studies and design research could play in supporting public engagement with the development and use of science and technology.

The “Internet of Things” is a vision for computing that uses a variety of wireless identification, location, and sensor technologies to collect information about people, places and things–and make it available via the internet. Today’s farms generate and collect large amounts of data, and we were interested in what people could do with this information–as well as what we might do with related science and technology in the future.

Over two years we travelled around the country, visiting merino stations, going to A&P shows and shearing competitions, and spending time in offices and labs, talking with breeders, growers, shearers, wool handlers, scientists, industry representatives, government policy makers and others–all so that we could learn about how NZ merino is grown and used. Then we took what we learned about people’s hopes and concerns, and we imagined four possible scenarios for the future production and consumption of merino sheep and products…

From the original website, visitors could consider each scenario and complete an anonymous survey. The links above include the original scenarios, public responses to our work, and related publications. We’re also working on archiving our process here, including failed and abandoned scenarios.

The project was awarded Editor’s Choice in the Postscapes Internet of Things Awards 2013, and was featured in Modern Farmer, Blueprint, and Gizmodo.

Counting Sheep was generously supported by a Royal Society Marsden Fund grant and Victoria University of Wellington.