a complicated relationship

one of the blogs i scan is PSFK – basically a blog for people who do what i do for a living, and are bored. and we’re often bored, but unwilling to be boring ourselves. so PSFK expressed some disdain for this concern for the safety of a piece of electronic equipment:

Harmed – not damaged, knackered, smashed or mucked up? How emotional is our connection with electronics becoming?

i suppose my first reaction was to wonder, ‘what’s it to him?’ and then i started thinking about the very post-modern take that PSFK has on the Idolatry of Things. they tend to be in the camp of coming to the blog not to condemn beautiful design or clever purpose or ingenious use but to praise it, and then want it both ways. “see this beautiful thing? it is beautiful, though there is a better version of it, but really, can’t you think of something better to do?” for the perfect example, go here.

but i digress. over on WIRED is where all the action at. contrary to the apparently ‘too far down the love of gadgets’ spectrum headline, the piece is really a review of a music video.

As Chapman told Vice, “you can’t deliver an idea like throwing cameras out of windows to Kylie Minogue, because they’d just think you were a fucking idiot.” Whatever the cameras cost (not much, apparently), the price was worth it.

the true concern of the author then, was on the wasted cash spent on roof testing cameras. and since the effect was properly punk rock, the level of concern he had in the end was limited. one must weigh rocking with the awesome power of the devil against dropping some junk out of a building, after all. if it failed to in fact execute cool, then the unnecessary waste would have been derided as a lame, mere attempt at being cool. oh, we’re all digressing now.

but i’ll throw my hat into the ring as someone guilty of what PSFK was alluding to. i personify many of my gadgets – most especially my iPhone, of course. when it’s acting up, i stroke it while resetting it. i apologize to it if i drop it (which i almost never do!). my old PowerBook had a name, Claudia Jean, after the press secretary on the West Wing. it possessed, i felt, her intelligence, her loyalty, and her elegance. i’m only half-kidding.

why do we do that? i suppose it’s because we can’t help it, because there has always been a little deus in the machina and therefore we suppose there might be some room for personality or temperament in there amongst the rapid fire 1s and 0s of processing. but i think it’s also a function of language – the computer takes too long to do something and so we say to it, ‘any time now!’ as though it could hear us and get a move on. when there’s a delay between what your fingers are doing on keyboard or mousepad and what’s happening on screen and we experience the necessary foul-ups that go with that, we talk to the screen, ‘no, that’s not what i meant!’ again as if the machine could be admonished in some way. we say these things because we experience similar things from living beings, because we must express our frustration or pleasure, because we like to fill the time with the sounds of our own voices.

it ain’t rational, but it is charming. a little.

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