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By (February 20, 2009) ()

A lot of my work at ITP (like everyone) thus far has been about giving objects networked or technological capabilities. Brass knuckles that control a pong game, furry pets that transmit their purrs to each other when petted, masks that translate human speech into animal speech – these are all attempts to humanize inanimate objects. Really however, I already feel overloaded and overnetworked, over-monitored and over-anticipated by my technology. The thing I really want, more connection to my fellow humans, remains tantalizingly out of my reach. A common conundrum – you meet an acquaintance on the street and you have nothing to say – you’ve been following their Twitter feed and Facebook page all week. Uncomfortable!

My main interest isn’t really ushering in a new technological utopia, but it may be an unintentional byproduct of artistic exploration. These visions of a profitable networked blogject future are interesting, but seem as always to ignore the critical flawed part of the process – humans. People need to be de-bugged. We will corrupt these systems, break them, and use them to exploit. To create a techno-utopia, I really think we will need to remove a lot of existing social constructs – one of Clay Shirky’s favorite subjects. Money will need to be gone, perhaps replaced with Corey Doctorow’s Whuffie – you did something good, that action gets tallied in the cloud as currency, and now someone else will do something good for you. Governments and corporations will need to be eradicated – the outmoded Stanford Prison experiments that they are, replaced by ad-hoc service providers who are so networked that they can ship resources around and so savvy that they can rapid-prototype things sustainably out of local resources.

Otherwise, we’ll be a nation of slaves with a ruling-class of omniscient techno-elites.  (If we aren’t already). This sounds a bit radical, but I really think that changing people will be thousands of times harder than adding networks to every damn thing. We’re already doing that.

February 20, 2009

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