Thursday, November 19, 2009


I really enjoyed Chris Csikszentmihályi’s lecture on Tuesday, particularly his project developing open source protest robots. On one level I liked the cheeky and rebellious attitude of these little robots disbursed to dispense political unrest. But I didn’t really like that with this approach in which it seems like most of the energy invested is going towards creating the mode of protest, instead of actually protesting or making a statement. While I was really taken with Csikszentmihályi’s perspectives on innovation in how innovation within the status quo can be more of a regressive force than a progressive one, I found this specific case a little problematic. I wonder if this is an example of how innovation – the mix of technological construction with political protest – might actually take away from the potential outcome (in this case, political change). I guess I’m wondering what the tension or relationship is between this drive for innovation (just for the sake of innovation) versus a more research or evidence based production? Also, how does this more personalized, individualized mechanical production of political protest counter or undermine the power of the crowd/mass that the florc or Terranova texts discuss?

1 comment:

Chris Csikszentmihalyi said...

Hey, perhaps I wasn't clear: These robots are designed specifically to protest outside the factories (many around boston) where the killer robots like SWORDS or the irobot warrior are produced. They are very specific to the problem, designed for the media, and for the engineers who make the war robots. Others may use them at the G8 or other places, but they really are designed as very specific doppelgangers of their more aggressive cousins.