Saturday, July 19, 2003

What you don't know can hurt you

Check out Elizabeth Goodman's slightly creepy and quite lovely Sensing Beds project:

The Sensing Beds domesticate communications devices by placing them in the intimate space of the bedroom. As an experiment in telepresence, they bridge the physical distance between two people who would normally share a bed, but find themselves sleeping apart. Sensors located in one mattress pad track the position of its occupant and transmit that data to the other bed where the position data is used to activate heating pads at the same coordinates. Each sleeper thus feels the ghostly warmth of the absent partnerís body in the other bed ...

The Sensing Beds are deliberately limited in the data they sample. They do not recognize who is in the bed, or whether the bed's owner is in the room. Their heat may be a comforting reminder of a lover's presence ó or perhaps create insecurity. Predictable data is comforting, while differences (Why is the entire bed warm? Why has the bed been cool all night?) in routine can bring distrust. Sometimes ambiguous data is more disturbing than no knowledge at all. Knowing more about your partner may not always make you happy.


I think I prefer intimate technologies that conjure fear and danger, and not just comfort. They seem more honest.

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