A World of Enchanted Objects - Avoiding a Cacophonous Internet of Dings

Last night I learned of David Rose's book Enchanted Objects, and watched his fascinating talk at Google from last month. Highly recommended, and I plan on getting the book.

His examples are subtle, often with warm and positive emotional impacts. The hooks on your wall gently reminding you of friends, or that you can use those running shoes today. Your doorbell alerting you to loved ones' locations as they make their way home. Your umbrella by the door alerting you as leave that it will be needed today based on the weather forecast.

If you take a look at Rose's "psychoanalysis" of traditional furniture forms, you can see how to get a lot more ideas on new "enchanted objects":

A Rose[tta] Stone for Generating Ideas for Enchanted Objects
Results of David Rose's "Psychoanalysis" of Traditional Furniture Forms
(from 1:05:23 of his talk at Google)

Per Rose, these "enchanted objects" should be tangible, haptic, incidental, embedded, natural, expressive and humanistic. For the first few products out the door, this will be exciting. But a world full of these things could be a different matter. However subtle these devices are, when there are enough of them all around us, we will need to deal with a cacophonous Disney-topia where every everyday thing is "magical."

And as cheap as these objects will be to make, it seems inevitable that WalMart could become a Brookstone Death Star, filling all of our homes, cars, offices - anywhere we go - with devices that can watch us and (hopefully just) want to helpfully communicate with us.

But enough simultaneous "subtle" tones and alerts could result in what are effectively loud "dings" that counterproductively irritate and distract.

We need to avoid the Internet of Dings.

And don't get me wrong - I love the examples he shows in his talk at Google last month. Both my wife and daughter thought the "Internet of Things" umbrella was "cool."

I think that we'll muddle through this. It's just another side of what's coming when the evolution of it trying to scale meets reality.

And I'm going to use that table by Rose to think of other ideas for enchanted objects :)

Note: After I wrote this this morning, I found that Joshua Benton had used the term "Internet of Dings" in a tweet in June 2, 2014 (https://twitter.com/jbenton/status/473617737164816384). I also saw it used in this 2005 blog. There may be other references as well. I am pretty sure it has popped up before several times, given the recent interest in the "Internet of Things".

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