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Bits and Bites

Dear Members and Constituents,
Have computer interaction models ever interfered with your real life? You know what I’m talking about: trying to extrapolate behavior which is useful when interacting with your laptop or iPhone to less appropriate tasks. I hate to admit it, but it’s happened to me (here are a couple of examples).
  • This morning as I was driving into work, the air was crisp and the stars seemed particularly bright. I recognized Orion but could not quite put my finger on the name for the seven sisters star cluster (Pleiades), so I instinctively pointed my finger at the constellation (briefly expecting roll-over text to pop-up and give me the answer).
  • On occasion, when typing-out that urgent e-mail, hunger strikes. At times like this, I’ve caught myself reaching for the mouse and moving the pointer in the direction of my lunch box. The pointer, of course, decides the edge of the screen is as far as it will go, no matter how much further my hand and mouse move in a futile attempt to click-and-drag my lunch towards me.
It’s times like this, when the brain momentarily blurs the distinction between the electronic and the real –between bits and bites, if you will— I wonder about our technological habits. Granted, I feel foolish and am glad no one was there to witness the scene, but I also think of my kids and how intertwined these experiences may become in the future. Typing-out a phone number and clicking my mouse to answer the phone would have previously been a behavior I could cite as a mental lapse (and is now a reality made possible by technology). Perhaps the world of The Matrix is not as far away as you might think. Before you start to worry we may already be there, let me suggest the following idea. If, as the character Mouse suggested, the machines “couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything”; then donuts are proof we’re not in the matrix (they definitely don’t taste like chicken). This sweet evidence is at my desk this morning courtesy of Austin Hurt (donut boy). I would have sent you a hyperlink to the donuts but decided the real experience might be more satisfying.
Happy Friday!

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