Preferred Object User


Sometimes electronic objects in the home don’t work the way people expect them to or how the sales person told them the gadgets would function. Especially in times of pressure people expect the object’s full “cooperation”, and don’t have explanations for their “misbehavior”. When objects deny their service, are experienced to be out of control, anthropomorphizing them is one major strategy to cope with the situation, if not simply replacing the old object with a brand new one.

PREFERRED OBJECT USER demonstrates this perspective of interpreting objects anthropomorphical for the sake of clarity by taking the idea a bit further and twisting the approach of “user customizing object and anthropomorphism” around:

Imagine we live in a world where there is no more wall between user and electronic objects. We all live together, even more than now. The difference is that this relationship is not one sided anymore. The electronic objects have acquired personalities and a mind of their own. We can still own them but we have to be caring and considerate towards them.

No more just charging your cell phone in a dark corner on the floor...they'll probably scream... Using Mechanical Turk for inquiry I asked about 30 people from all over the world what they think their electronic object would want to change about them:

Imagine your inanimate electronic objects suddenly aren't so lifeless anymore but have a full fledged personality. What do you think they would want to change about you?

I received responses like:

My coffeemaker wants to be treated with respect. It does not enjoy less than complete attention to detail. If the filter is placed in askew, for instance, it will somehow manage to completely collapse the filter and spew grounds into the coffee.

I don't think my iPod likes me. Or actually, maybe she likes me a bit too much. Every time I try to turn her off, she just won't listen. It takes forever. Way too much effort. Maybe she's angry my brother keeps borrowing her? He listens to weird Bob Dylan. My iPod and I both must find his voice kind of abrasive.

My dryer really does not like me. I throw my clothes in run it full time and every time the clothes are never dry. My wife on the other hand never has an issue sometimes I wonder what did I ever do to you dryer.

My printer does not care for me because I prefer to hand write my paper. Every time I choose to print out my paper it just jams. I would replace the printer but my husband never has any issues with it. I think my printer is mad at me for preferring to handwrite.

This fictional approach, which points towards the well being of our inanimate electronic objects, leads to the serious question of how much do we care, do we actually need to care, accustomed to our disposable consumer culture. Might nurturing the metaphorical concepts of conceiving electronic objects with animate qualities by designing them in special ways help to change consumers’ minds and behavior towards a new modest and responsible attitude towards the environment, where sustainability would count more than consumerism? Could the design of EOS make such a difference and help redesign human attitudes?

  1. Mechanical Turk ( is a market place for work. On the one hand side an on-demand, scalable workforce for businesses and developers. And on the other hand side it offers an opportunity for individuals to work by selecting from thousands of tasks and work whenever it is convenient.