poetic/social/playful objects


Jorge Luis Borges’ poetic objects, Jyri Engestrom’s social objects, playful objects in the tradition of the more recent IoT explorations like Usman Haque’s addicted toaster or maybe the Ugle, a networked wooden owl that allows you to send a color message.

Borges, referring to a kind of literature of the fictional world of Tlön, whose language consists “ideal objects” which are “convoked and dissolved in a moment, according to poetic needs”. Second degree objects, combinable by an author in levels of complexity challenging comprehension, yet fleeting, ephemeral. Engestrom, using data points as a focal point that connects people. Digital, possibly lasting (for now). Haque, playing with perceptions of things, anthropomorphizing everyday objects that are connected, interactive, conveying playfulness.

(Bruno Latour’s Parliament of Things, re-surfacing in Adam Greenfield‘s notion of a Thing of Things (thing used here in the sense of assembly, as presented at the OpenIOT Assembly), also seem to be relevant in this context, although I’m not entirely sure how, beyond the more obvious power — and hence policy — implications.)

There’s a strong connection there, between these three types of objects and their interplay, yet to be explored, a meaning I’ve been trying to surface, so far unsuccessfully.

Gut-feeling: Where you cross the (admittedly blurry) lines between two or more of these types of objects it gets interesting. Take Alex D-SGood Night Lamp (GNL), both social and playful object. One could argue that its rapid prototyping-based nature taps right into Borges’/Tlön’s ephemeral poetic objects as well. The Ugle would probably also fit right at the intersection of social & playful, after all much like the GNL it represents an ambient social signal with low-key interactivity. David Bausola‘s Weavrs (like this one) are definitely playful, if purely digital in their current manifestation, and work around social objects in Engestrom’s sense – data points, images, blog posts, geo data. In other words: URLs.

How can we tap more into all three? What happens at the overlap of the Venn diagram of poetic/social/playful objects?

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