The Hipster Effect » twitter Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 10 crazy things that tweet /2012/01/26/10-crazy-things-that-tweet/ /2012/01/26/10-crazy-things-that-tweet/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2012 20:59:43 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=529 more]]> Whoever said that Twitter is reserved for the living and literate? Certainly not the folks that invented these tweeting products. From the useful to the absurd, here are 10 devices making 140-character waves – from before the cradle to after the grave.

#1: Tweeting straight from mommy’s womb

Expectant father Corey Menscher was perhaps more expectant than most – rather than waiting for his baby to be born, he invented the Kickbee, allowing his unborn little one to communicate with the world via kicks and sensors. Presumably, “Mommy’s got bad gas” and “Enjoy your sleep while you can, sucker” will be available in version 2.0.



 #2: Tweeting toddlers

Being born is no reason to stop the tweeting action. With the Twoddler – a modified Fisher Price toy featuring photos of the family and a whole lot of sensor action going on under the hood – the tweeting doesn’t have to stop at the end of the birth canal.



#3: Tweeting toilets

So your toddler’s growing up and it’s time to toss the diapers aside and go potty like a big boy. But what’s a working mother to do? Easy – track that potty progress via Twitter. The hacklab.TOilet sends out a tweet every time the toilet is flushed. In the words of the inventors, “hey, it’s more useful and relevant than just about everything else on twitter!”



#4: Tweeting dogs

Think humans are the only ones with things to tweet about? Get your dog in on the tweeting action with Puppy Tweets, a Twitter-enabled device that mounts on your pup’s collar. Among the available tweets: “I bark because I miss you” and “I finally caught that tail I’ve been chasing.” If the next version includes “Hurry home I’m having a vomit-a-thon” or “Boy this shoe tastes like sirloin,” I’m sold.



#5: Tweeting cats

Don’t worry internet, I didn’t forget the cats. While Rover’s tweeting up a storm in the backyard, let Tigger get in on the game with the Kitty Twitty, his very own tweeting cat toy. No word yet on whether it speaks Cheezburger.



#6: Tweeting plants

Twitter or not, your dog and cat make it very clear when they need food or water. But what about your plants? Worry no more – the Botanicalls Kit will let that Azalea of yours tell you when it’s feeling thirsty. As an absentminded house plant serial killer, I have to say this device could actually prove quite handy.



#7: Tweeting office chairs

If a freelancer farts and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it still make a sound? It does if you have the Twittering Office Chair. According to the inventors: “The Twittering office chair “tweets” (posts a Twitter update) upon the detection of natural gas such as that produced by human flatulence.” Looks like it’s time to finally throw out that old whoopie cushion.



#8: Tweeting beds

One best man rigged up the bed of a newlywed couple to automatically tweet when and how the newlyweds did what newlyweds do best – have sex. The twittering bed was reportedly based on the same technology as used in the twittering chair. Only, you know, sexier.



#9: Tweeting brains

Proving that not all tweeting devices have to be whimsical, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has invented a device that allows users to tweet directly via electrical signals in the brain. The device is aimed at helping patients whose bodies no longer work, such as those suffering from locked-in syndrome. At 8 characters a minute it’s not going to win any speed competitions, but it’s a start – and a great one at that.



#10: Tweeting zombies

OK, not really zombies. Just plain old dead people. The e-tomb is a conceptual grave marker that stores information about your deceased love one that is then transmitted via Bluetooth to graveside visitors. And while it may not technically be live-tweeting, it’s really the next best thing: dead tweeting.



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How the police took Occupy’s privacy away /2011/11/16/how-the-police-took-occupys-privacy-away/ /2011/11/16/how-the-police-took-occupys-privacy-away/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2011 01:56:21 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=454 more]]> With just a few hours remaining until its forceful eviction, the scene at Occupy Wall Street bordered on the serene. An unusually mild November evening had brought protesters out of their tents and into the open, blissfully unaware that the New York Police Department was actively preparing to descend upon and shut down the Zuccotti Park encampment. Despite weeks of preparation involving hundreds of offices in New York and other occupied cities nationwide, the protesters never suspected a thing. While their own preparations were being carried out on wide open networks and public websites, the police operated entirely behind closed doors. They had what the protesters did not: a private network and the element of surprise.

Since its inception, the Occupy movement has relied on the internet and social networks to spread its message and to coordinate logistics. The #occupywallstreet tag has exploded in popularity on Twitter, thousands of people have joined hundreds of groups on Facebook, and dozens of cities worldwide have echoed the protest locally, creating their own websites and forums along the way. Information was spread far and wide and communication was instantaneous, but all of it was as much in view of the authorities as of the protesters. A recent U.S. court decision involving the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks supporters shows us that even what seems private online – direct messages on Twitter, for instance – can now be released without the need of a warrant. The message is clear: we, the public, cannot use social networks for our own private communication. By joining Twitter, the recent court decision announced, we have forfeited the privacy of any communication carried out therein.

In the public realm, privacy in communication is largely relegated to one-on-one conversations. I can write you a letter, send you an email or give you a call, but the moment I communicate to a group on Facebook (even if it’s supposedly private), I have given up my right to privacy. The ability to carry out private, many-to-many conversations online does not currently exist. Any networks that do provide the ability to have such conversations are now, with the Twitter/WikiLeaks case precedent, legally able to release your personal information without a warrant. The reasoning behind this decision is that by agreeing to a privacy policy when you join a network – you know, those pages and pages of legal mumbo jumbo surrounded by cute graphics and bite-size slogans prompting you to hurry up and log in already – you have given up any expectation of privacy. So while we’re allowed to create protest websites and discuss their logistics online, we are not allowed to coordinate online group meetings in private.

The troubling part of what happened at Zuccotti Park last night is not that the authorities were able to widely communicate in private – that is, of course, an absolute necessity – but that we, the public, have no ability to do the same. It harkens back to the days when distributing subversive pamphlets was illegal and authorities could legally crack down on any group meetings where such forbidden topics were discussed. The Occupy movement has carried out all of its communication in the public eye. The police have been involved, the government has been involved, Wall Street has been involved; everybody was invited to participate in the conversation. Now that the police have evicted the Occupy Wall Street encampment – the only place where protesters were able to have private group discussions in a face-to-face setting – the movement is in need of a private place to continue the conversation online. Whatever the reasons for the eviction itself, by forcing individuals out of the only physical setting that allowed for private group discussions, the ability to have such discussions was effectively eliminated. Until we are able to privately communicate in a group setting online, there needs to be a physical counterpart to any protest or movement.

What the police shut down last night was not a campsite. It was a vital communication hub that now needs to be replaced.


Photo credit: Nick Gulotta


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Sorry, I was (tweeting) drunk /2011/09/21/sorry-i-was-tweeting-drunk/ /2011/09/21/sorry-i-was-tweeting-drunk/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2011 16:53:51 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=49 more]]> Come on, admit it, you’ve done it too: you’ve sent out an update to your social networks while under the influence. Now that we all have laptops and carry around perpetually connected smartphones in our pockets, downtime is practically a thing of the past. We update our Facebook status while waiting in line, check on our Google+ feeds at the doctor’s office, and – oftentimes – we send out a tweet from the bar. But, as Alex Wilhelm asks in a new post on The Next Web, is drunken tweeting always such a bad thing?

Context is, of course, key. As graduate student Stacy Snyder learned a few years back, a seemingly innocent joke about drunkenness can carry some serious consequences. Snyder was denied graduation from Millersville University after a photo was discovered under her MySpace profile titled “Drunken Pirate,” in which she was pictured wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. So at what point in our online drunkenness do we cross the line?

As technology has become increasingly ubiquitous, the old lines separating life from work have become increasingly blurred. A seemingly innocuous photo taken in a social setting is examined through a different lens when it makes its way into academia or the business world. Likewise, a silly drunken tweet that amuses one group of followers is just as likely to be wholly inappropriate to another. Unfortunately, we often have no way of knowing where those lines are drawn and at what point we cross them. When our bosses are easily able to view our social indiscretions, who bears the burden of responsibility – is it up to us to be more careful, or is it up to them to be more realistic about what goes on in our downtime? The reasonable approach would be to do both.

Take, for instance, my own personal twitter feed, sprinkled liberally with curses, euphemisms and dirty jokes. My tweets on that account are directed towards a certain type of follower – essentially, towards a certain kind of person who enjoys a certain type of inappropriate joke. One day, during a 6-month stint in Portugal, I tweeted this:

It would take two months for me to learn that my mom does, in fact, read that twitter feed. Thankfully, she knows her daughter’s sense of humor and was not offended. But again, it begs the question: where are the boundaries between the parts of our life that are personal, and the parts of our lives that are exposed to our family and business colleagues? And better yet: do those boundaries even exist anymore? Perhaps it’s time we take a better look at ourselves and realize that we are complex beings, capable of posting drunken tweets at night and articulate posts in the morning. The old boundaries aren’t coming back. Maybe it’s time we stop pretending that we are one-dimensional beings and allow for the occasional indiscretion. As Wilhelm points out in his post:

“You have to ask yourself what the cost is for appearing a bit unprofessional when three winds into the blanket (close enough). Do people look down on the fact that you just tweeted that your friend ducked outside to be sick, but came back and tried to play it cool? And that you then bought him a beer? And if your personal failings become more public due to liquid-induced verbosity and functional 3G coverage, is that such a bad thing? I don’t think so, but I’m not exactly ready to invite Twitter back into my (usually not alcohol-centered) social life.”

Photo credit: palindrome6996


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