I’m not entirely sure I agree with the products at Pleasurable Troublemakers.
Matthias Laschke, a PhD student at Folkwang University of the Arts, helped create a collection of devices that work both with and against you depending on the choices you make. They are all geared to help you save the environment or improve your health, but I don’t know how much I would become annoyed with the products themselves before I realized any of their possible benefits.
The first product I ran across was the Keymoment. It is a pair of key hooks that expects you to place your bike key on the left hook and your cars keys on the right hook. When you grab your bike key to go to work, for instance, the Keymoment does nothing. It acts like a normal key hook: inanimate. However, when you grab your car keys, a mechanism inside the device drops your bike key to the floor.
This is supposed to make you think twice about your habits. When the bike key falls, you are supposed to reflect on your choice and maybe choose the bike if it’s in your best interest.
Now, despite my pleasure in examining the simplicity of this mechanism, I realize that I will soon adapt and conquer its methods. It won’t take me long to remember that the key will drop; I will certainly begin to pause for a second and catch the bike key as it falls. Further on into my relationship with the device, I’m sure I’ll just find somewhere else to stash my car keys or perhaps all of my keys.
A separate Pleasurable Troublemakers unit is The Never Hungry Caterpillar. It is an extension cable that begins to animate once the devices plugged into it have been turned off. When I turn off my television that’s plugged into the device, for instance, the Caterpillar will begin to squirm. It will squirm mildly if my television is plugged into the device and is displaying a picture; it will squirm much more violently when the television is in stand-by mode. The only way to get it to stop squirming entirely is to unplug my television or unplug the Caterpillar from the wall jack.
Analysis of the devices at Wired confirms that “the challenge with these sorts of interventions, however, is fine-tuning (the friction between the device and the user). You want to give people the chance to make a better choice without turning them off on your product altogether.”
Unfortunately for me, I’m much too sensitive to unwanted noises and movements, so I certainly wouldn’t be able to deal with the Caterpillar for more than a day. And unfortunately for the key hook, as I said before, I will most certainly grow tired of its tricks.
The point of the devices is not lost on me. I realize that I’m supposed to reflect on my choices and make positive life decisions. I just don’t feel like I need a mechanism to nudge me into action. I would much rather prefer to make positive choices on my own rather than leave my fate to a corresponding level of annoyance with my keys or extension cord.
As pieces of art, the entire collection of Pleasurable Troublemakers strikes me as a purposeful step between action and reaction. They signify the relationships between individuals and the devices in their lives they use most often. As realistic, best-selling, must-have pieces of life-changing hardware, though, I just don’t see them taking off.
Perhaps my pessimism is getting the better of me, but I don’t want my household objects to move. My keys should stay where I place them, and given the option to rid myself of a jittering extension cord, I will promise to turn off my appliances.
Image courtesy of goodgerster via Flickr
Granted, you may grow weary of how these devices act/react, but their purpose is to instill a sense of mindfulness – an in-the-moment reflection about the issue they’re addressing, be it energy conservation or eco-friendly practices. It would appear that even in annoying someone to the point of them avoiding using the devices, if they cause people to reflect on why they’re avoiding them, the devices have stayed true to their names – pleasurable troublemakers – and have achieved their purpose.