hello, i’m a thing

One aspect of network culture that I haven’t remarked enough on is the growing preponderance of things demanding that we interact with them as if they’re human. Over the last few days I’ve been spending an infuriating amount of time with Verizon (I have fiber-to-the-home but my Verizon-owned copper wire cables fell outside…apparently there is no way to convince Verizon to come out to fix these…more later if I don’t get them fixed in the next-go-around) and their strangely, slightly sassy voice menu system.
Pigeons that blog? Forget it. We’re already dealing with automata with a distinct attitude. Robert Kuttner, at the Boston Globe, reports.

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The Berlin Wall’s Wife, Clarence the Record Collector, and Mike the Headless Chicken

The previous post on Clocky brought us to the topic of our relationship to things, something that Robert Sumrell and I have spent a good deal of time thinking about in our new book Blue Monday. This week, I have been going over the edits one very last time before we sent it to the printer and, in so doing, realized that I should point varnelis.net readers toward three short stories in Blue Monday that we have, thus far, kept largely under wraps.

The first is the story of Wall W. Berliner-Mauer , a Swedish woman who fell in love with the great modernist icon, the Berlin Wall and married it in 1979. As you might imagine, Berliner-Mauer's story is quite tragic as her husband was demolished a decade later. Berliner-Mauer has extensively theorized her relationship with the wall on her web site. The second is the story of Clarence, an obsessive record collector who has given up his life to the objects of his attention. In this story we explore our devotion and even slavery to objects. The third is the story of Mike, a chicken who survived decapitation to form a bond with the man who chopped off his head. Mike's life allowed us insight into just how perilous relationships of people and things can be.

Together, these three stories explore the fraught relationships we have with objects and our desire not only to make them submit to us, but to submit ourselves to them. We hope you'll enjoy them, and enjoy them even more when they become available in far more readable form in the book.

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I was intrigued to read about the release of the Clocky in today's New York Times. No longer just a cool idea, Clocky is now shipping.



Developed by Gauri Nanda, a graduate student in MIT's media lab, Clocky is an alarm clock that jumps off the night table and runs away from you if you hit your snooze button one time too many, randomly screeching at you with its alarm.. Not only do I need a Clocky (I have two small children after all!), with Clocky I think we see a glimpse of the future of network culture in which our relationships with things become ever more emotional. I'll take the shag one.


shaggy clocky



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