Maybe its a performance-art peice. Maybe not (probably not). The thoughts of my thesis are as follows:
What if I took on the role of the machine? From this examination, can I deduce interventions that need to be made? We assign agency to our objects, the ambiguity only enabling more. If an oxygen tank refilling machine had personality, what would it be? Let’s view the object seriously, but not examine in terms of efficiency, lets examine them as characters.
Despite my relentless vocalization of excitement about the book “Hertzian Tales” (probably to the annoyance of more than one classmate), I have not yet written about its influence on my thesis here. I’ll explain its impact on my thesis later, but for now, there is this. I took a break from blog and article, to turn to a book recommended by an occupational therapist last semester.
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is a memoir to give pause, and devour whole. Bauby writes of his life with locked-in syndrome, a result of massive stroke. Once the editor of French “Elle”, he is now only capable of blinking his left eye. With the help of Claude Medibi, he dictates his entire memoir. Bauby blinks for the correct letter that Claude recites, going numerous times over an alphabet ordered by letters most commonly used in the French language. Each brief chapter reveals part of his current life, and memories of his past. Bauby recounts his dreams in the latter chapters, as he gains “butterfly thoughts”.
There were many parts that stood out to me in particular, as bits of his therapy and journey to acceptance of his state of being. Through out, he maintained his strong sense of identity. He wore his old cashmere in rejection of hospital-issued jumpsuits. He referred to “Elle” as “his magazine”, despite recognizing it outside of his domain. Two identities were formed, the one from people who knew him before the incident, and the ones who had only met him afterwards. When visiting the physical therapy rooms, he viewed many as only “tourists”, those patients who would eventually be going home. Father’s Day took on a new meaning, while never celebrated before, now it was a considered day for visitation. This day held significance as the affirmation that he was still a father.
The thought most lasting to me was when Bauby wrote: “everybody now understands that he can join me in my diving bell, even if sometimes the diving bell takes me into unexplored territory.” He was referring to when he first began writing letters again to his friends, and they began writing back. The reader has now been drawn in as well, if only for a brief time. Bauby is asking for empathy, from family, friends, hospital workers, and all who knew him before. We might not ever be able to understand his condition to such depths that he does, but we can give our empathy. It is not just a sentiment I need to carry into thesis, it is a foundation.
Since starting to wear my Nike Fuel Band three months ago, I have come to a few more observations on how its nestled into my life.
+ It is a social object. Whether recognized by another Fuel Band owner, or the curious, it is cause to spark brief conversation. What is your Fuelpoints goal? This first question used to baffle me. I couldn’t remember the number I had set on. I remembered I had chosen “Active” (the only choice between “Lazy” and “Sports” from my perspective), and then I gauged by the LED gradient whether I was close or not to my goal that day. This even softer way of tracking my data was later traded for memorizing the number (3,000)
+Speaking of numbers, the only two I allow to be displayed on my band are the Fuel points and the time. I took Calories & Steps off because I was tired of cycling through them to get to either Time (useful) or Fuel (guilt-inducing). Calories may only be useful to those monitoring their food intake, and I’d be astounded if I ever found a use for Steps. I don’t have any way to gauge the Steps number, the closest would be if they were to relate them to a mile, which even then my distance-perception would struggle to translate. On top of this, most of my daily commute is on bike, so really its a bit flippant. Fuel points are a great narrative, they are the equalizer between parties. It’s the vagueness behind the calculation of the points, that allows us to suspend mental comparisons and have a common grounds to talk.
+My last sticking thought about the FuelBand is its lack of contextual-awareness. The month of December was a yellow wreck on my activity charts. The goal-hitting was sparse. This was because of two fervent weeks of finals, followed by a house-bound stay at my grandparents’ place in the suburbs. I could have manually lowered my goal setting, but I didn’t. Instead I merely rejoiced on the days I reached half way. It didn’t motivate me to try to exercise more, one little defeat after another just piled up. If this device is so contextually unaware, it only rewards achievements-never nudges, then how can it feed into my behavior loop? At what point does it give cue to trigger my behavior? The bracelet becomes merely a passive object then, reflecting data. The fuelband gives feedback, but this is where it falls short. Of course, much rests on myself in my response to reading this information. I think that it could inform better.
— C. Beevor, “Between Here and Now”
How my mom writes recipes (copy & pasted in exact format)