Somewhere around the end of February my Nabaztag rabbit stopped doing the only thing it did any more - announcing the time in odd, amusing ways, in a strange English accent.
And, although I didn't notice straight away the sound of the Nabaztag not doing anything because one a routine failure faded into the sound of the Nabaztag not doing anything because they'd switched the servers off and I noticed it had died and I was sad.
I've owned three iterations of the Nabaztag/Karotz thing - each bought and connected in the fond hope that it would finally make the network talk to me rather than just appear on a screen. And each didn't quite work, and each attempt at hacking around it didn't quite work either and then they just became Minimum Viable Talking Things muttering to themselves in the corner of the room.
But there was still something to love about them.
Not least because they suggested there were alternatives to the Silicon Valley object design axis where everything sits somewhere on a line between Useful and Delightful. They found another interesting place to be, a line between Useless and French, and they explored what it meant to make the network into something funny, social and decorative. They didn't fail because no one wants that. They failed because the technology wasn't good enough and because hardware is hard.
This still feels to me, like fresh and unexplored territory - the network talking to you, not you talking to it. It doesn't need speech recognition, it just needs to connect to your feeds and friends and occasionally tell you what's happening. The Nabaztag took that further by embedding that capability in something charming and odd, something that didn't look and feel like 'technology'.
Now, though, the servers are off and it looks like my only option is to learn how to run it off a Raspberry Pi.
There's a brilliant Swiss idea called Pumipumpe. It's just a set of stickers depicting the kind of stuff people have in their home. The idea is that you stick stickers on your mailbox in the communal hallway of your block of flats, declaring what things in your flat you're willing to share. It's brilliantly simple, solving splendidly with stickers the kind of thing people are always trying to solve with apps.
Stickers are like Minimum Viable Entities. They're just enough to demonstrate that something exists and is real, but they're lightweight and disposable and attachable in all kinds of places.
Tampon Club describes it as making it look proper. Stickers help with that.
February 27, 2015 | Permalink