Ever sense Sascha started talking, quite animatedly, about this project — ” The Blind Camera — I became almost as excited as he. A camera..that takes someone else’s photo. The semantics are tricky — it doesn’t take a photograph of someone else, but take’s (as in, borrows or copies or “snags”) a photograph that someone else has captured, somewhere else in the world, at that same moment.
I mean..that’s kind of brilliant in a playful, thoughtful way. The project captures all the amazingly promising characteristics of a world of sharing and circulating culture and experiences. And the most engaging part of the project, in my mind, is that it’s an object, a tangible camera â€” an actual camera – and not just a bit of code, that you can download for free or whatever, and put on your laptop to play with for a few days and then discard or foreget about. It’s an object – a physical affordance or whatever you want to call it. And that makes all the difference in the world for this project.
And another reason why I think Things that are networked matter. The idea of a general purpose computational device like your laptop has much less appeal in this regard. Or even the idea of the mobile phone being the one device you carry with you.
How, conceptually, from the perspective of design or even practicality, can we expect that this idea of one mobile device will sustain itself? There are so many things wrong with the mobile phone as an address book, for instance, or a game interface, or even as a telephone. Even the simplest of annoyances seem beyond the capabilities of the common phone to avoid. For example, how can you get people to stop shouting into their phone? People talk louder than they do when they’re just having a normal human conversation â€” from inside my house on a nice pedestrian street, I can hear the phone conversations of neighbors walking their dogs as if they were sitting right here in my office.
Anyway, I am very fond of the idea of a diversity of devices at our disposal, whether or not we have them all the time. A baroque assembly of various instrumentalities, one of which is a camera that takes other people’s photographs, another of which allows me to carry my online persona out into 1st Life so it can interact with other, offline objects, another that reminds me how to get where I’m going, etc. One device for everything seems positively impossible to achieve, practically or even conceptually speaking. And there’s heuristic proof out there â€” my Treo is great because it has QWERTY. My Treo stinks cause it has Sprint. My Treo is great because it has a decent camera. My Treo stinks cause it weighs a ton and strains the seams of my pocket. My Treo stinks cause it has Sprint. This Nokia E61 I have is great cause it has QWERTY. This Nokia E61 stinks cause it has no camera. Etc. I think it is a conceit driven by corporate avarice and design hubris that there is One Thing that will embody all the interesting things we could do in our mobile lives.