Cyborg Anthropology

Amber Case is the orig­i­nal Cyborg Anthro­pol­o­gist. The­se are my some­what dis­joint­ed notes from a great talk.

Ambi­ent loca­tion and the future of the inter­face.

The future of the inter­face is that it will dis­ap­pear — reduc­ing our unnat­u­ral actions #Amber­Case #sxlb #sxswi
Nico­la Swankie

From solid to liq­uid to air: how we change state — but­tons on the phone are liq­uid, not physical.How do they become air?

An anthro­pol­o­gist would look at our phones and think they were babies. We have devices in our pock­et that cry and we need to pick them up and set­tle them down.
You need to feed them and put them to sleep at night.
cell phone baby
We are 60,000 peo­ple in this room if you count the peo­ple we bring in with our con­tact lists.

You can add new con­tacts to your phone and it doesn’t get heav­ier. Print out all the doc­u­ments and images files on your phone? It weighs 2,000 pounds. 

Amber print­ed her Face­book wall on„, a wall. one mon­th worth of data cov­ered an exhi­bi­tion sized room.

Ethe­re­al stor­age is ephemer­al. Stone carv­ing is the most robust archival sys­tem we’ve found.

We are per­sis­tent pale­on­tol­o­gists, dig­ging into our email archives to find rem­nants of the past. 

Nick Rodrigues, Email Gar­den: fake grass grew at the rate he receive email. 

Tech­nol­o­gy and its dis­con­tents. It makes you look bad. We have super­hu­man pow­ers. We can click a but­ton and lis­ten to what’s hap­pen­ing on the oth­er side of the world. 

Cell phones: the new cig­a­rettes. Bus Stop? Phone comes out the way smokes used to. 

RT @ajschwab: Per­sis­tent the­me at #sxsw today: tech is a drug. #amber­case “In 5 min at the bus stop we used to have a cig­a­ret­te, now we …
Gal Oppen­heimer

Steve Mann: Wore 80 pounds of equip­ment in 1981 and live streamed his life. You become inhu­man when you assume the posi­tion of typ­ing at a lap­top, scrunched down, shoul­ders slumped — he want­ed the tech­nol­o­gy to adapt to HIM, not the oth­er way around. Over course of two decades gear start­ed at 80 pounds then 40, then 20, then 10. Now it’s all in a head­set that does a laser pro­jec­tion onto his eye.

Dimin­ished real­i­ty: cam­era over one eye, pro­cess­ing loop around the back of his head, broad­cast cam­era in the oth­er eye. He can get aug­ment­ed real­i­ty mes­sages from wife mon­i­tor­ing the feed. He can erase brands from his image that he doesn’t want to see. 

Used one hand­ed twid­dler key­board to write, up to 90w­pm.

He edits Wikiepe­dia arti­cles when wait­ing for green at cross­walks.

Skeu­morphs: old tech sim­u­lat­ed in new tech — book read­ing apps that give you a crum­pling ani­ma­tion when you pag­i­nate. She real­ly real­ly hates this. Real­ly.

Kel­ly Dob­son: why do we teach machi­nes our lan­guage — let’s learn theirs. Build a blender you turn on by whirring at it. (Dan­ger: what if you have a dog??)

Calm Tech­no­ogy” This just works, I get on with my life. Your actions become but­tons. Invis­i­ble inter­faces, trig­ger based inter­ac­tions.

Hap­tic Loca­tion: wear a belt that buzzes your skin every few sec­onds locat­ing North rel­a­tive to your body. 

Loca­tion-based con­text allows you to be embod­ied in your world rather than teth­ered to a 2-dimen­sion­al screen. — #Amber­Case
Melea Seward

Inven­tor wore it on his bike and dis­cov­ered he had a six­th sense. He always knew where is house was. He knew how far he was. Why use vision for map and direc­tion — should be com­pressed into anoth­er sense inter­face.

Tribe that has only words for north, east etc, not left, behind etc can sense direc­tion even in closed rooms. Wow. #sxsw #Amber­Case @jug­noo
Rohn Jay Miller

Your phone will be a remote con­trol for real­i­ty. Put a geofence around your home, lights come on when you cross it. Tell your house you’ll be home in 5 min­utes. Put a geofence at your bus stop, tell your phone to wake you up when you get there. 

3 thoughts on “Cyborg Anthropology”

  1. Torn, Jen,
    I feel that ten­sion every day. I AM a Green­peace chap, and I love unspoiled nature and the lap­ping of waves in places with no WiFi. 

    But I also believe that tech­nol­o­gy is the camp­fire around which we tell our sto­ries today — it’s a part of trib­al being. And just as ants use pheromones and scent mark­ers to describe their world, to watch for changes, to com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er about how to defend their ant hills, tech­nol­o­gy is knit­ting a synap­tic net­work for human­i­ty that may become essen­tial to pro­tect­ing those wild places and walk­ing more light­ly on the Earth as a species. 

    Tech­nol­o­gy. Nature. Human beings. Har­mon­ic con­ver­gence.

  2. he want­ed the tech­nol­o­gy to adapt to HIM, not the oth­er way around…why do we teach machi­nes our lan­guage – let’s learn theirs.” A slight ten­sion there. No? 

    Real­ly want to agree with Jen. Depress­ing. Dystopi­an, even. Thought you were a Green­peace chap. Green, as in the green of the forest, the hills, the blue-green of the sea. There’s a risk here of the real green stuff becom­ing an irrel­e­vance.

    It can’t just be a ques­tion of brute sur­vival, can it?

    I hope not.

  3. Man that’s depress­ing. A belt that buzzes you to tell you where north is. 

    I prefer to look at the sun, the light. To use my brain, my in-built intu­itive geo-loca­tion sys­tem, to engage direct­ly with the world around me and know where I am.

    I want to be in the world and a part of it. not sep­a­rat­ed from it by all this stuff.

    Will such nat­u­ral, intu­itive tal­ents be lost among the jit­tery buzz of tech­nol­o­gy? Please say no. Like I say, that thought is just way too depress­ing.

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