Send As SMS

January 23, 2004

Making the Orb Glow

Just received a BloggerBuzz newsletter via email which talks about how much Blogger has grown since being acquired by Google. Apparently they have an Ambient Orb in their offices tapped into the Blogger back end.

Since being acquired by Google, Inc., Blogger's user base has nearly doubled. We hooked up this ambient orb at the office that somehow knows how many new blogs have been created in the last hour and changes color accordingly. Right now it's red, which means three hundred new Blogger blogs have been created in the last hour. Crazy.

With 53 new blogs created this week for two of my courses, it tickles me to know I helped redden that orb.

The whole idea of ambient displays is interesting. The idea is to create unobtrusive ways to monitor data that changes dynamically and embed them into living and working spaces as decorations. You mostly don't notice them, but when something changes that should get your attention, they change in ways that grab your eyes. Googling around, I find Weathermobile, Google employee Kevin Fox's musings, Craig Wisneski's thesis at the MIT Media Lab, and Smart Artefacts and the Disappearing Computer. Interesting stuff.

I wonder if future classrooms will have some kind of panel on the wall showing the degree of interest, understanding, boredom and frustration in the room. Good teachers, of course, do this with their own wetware, but is there a way to do it better?