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By (February 8, 2009) (,,,,)

The Directional Ticket, from Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation,” is a ticket that has the property of glowing while you are going toward what you bought. I chose this item because I was intrigued by the idea of an object guiding its owner, as opposed to the owner controlling the object. It places power in an inanimate object as the owner places his trust in it to bring him to where he’s supposed to go. The agency of the ticket conditions the owner to follow – if he does, then it will reward him with lighting up. Can the ticket be made to misguide the owner with some mal-intent? If the persuasion were exposed, the owner would feel tricked and regain his agency by rejecting the device. However, in the positive situation, it would be a useful tool for people who forgot where they parked, or as a fun treasure hunt game.

The Poison Snooper, from Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” is a device that checked food and drink for poisons. I liked the potential of a device to analyze foods – not for poisons per se – but rather the nutrition facts, such as caloric and organic values. The intention of the device would be to prevent people from eating unhealthily. The snooper could beep or flash if a meal doesn’t adhere to a specific diet, and perhaps to make it more transparent, it could make the food taste or look unappetizing, thus creating a taste aversion. Another implementation would be making the snooper a social actor as it makes suggestions to the user on how to eat or comparisons to others’ eating habits (both negative and positive reinforcement).

Coffeeiest, from Frederik Pohl and CM Kornbluth’s “The Space Merchants,” is coffee that you can’t live without once ingesting a few times. I find this sinister coffee quite intriguing. Once ingesting it, you are addicted for life and have to continuously buy the product. I don’t believe this would fit Fogg’s definition of a persuasive technology because it deals with a coercive factor in its persuasion. Exposure would probably make the addict extremely angry for getting hooked, assuming they were tricked into the habit and they don’t acquire any major positive side-effect from usage. The user, however, has no choice and is stuck for life.


February 8, 2009