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The `Existential Computer'

Existentialism, the philosophical theory that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining his own development, is proposed as a basis for `existential media' --- technology that (1) gives the user the deference of assumed competence, e.g. a computer that assumes that the user is able-minded rather than stupid, and (2) synergizes with the user rather than functions as a separate entity that replaces the user.

Smart Clothing

The goal of the `Existential User Interface' (EUI) is not increased productivity (e.g. making individuals more useful to society), but, rather, to reclaim the personal space (prosthetic territory) lost by invasive technology. A good example of `existential media' is clothing. Clothing affords us a great deal of self-determination, and serves as a useful metaphor for `existential media'. (It is no coincidence that clothing also formed the substrate upon which the `existential computer' invention was first realized.) The SONY ``Walkman'' is another example of `existential media'. Its ability to reclaim personal space lost to ``muzak'' (a use of technology that has stolen much of our solitude) affords the user a great deal of self-determination.
Steve Mann
Sun Mar 9 16:09:27 EST 1997