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The digital gestures of everyday life

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  February 18, 2013 01:17 PM

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On a micro level, changes in technology affect the physical positions we strike on a daily basis. For example, people probably spent a lot less time running their palms along walls before electric lights (and light switches) were invented. And by that same token, it's now rare that we find ourselves walking through our homes with one hand cupped around the flame of a candlestick: technological change has obviated that pose.

A trio of designers at the Art College of Pasadena and the Near Future Laboratory has put together a fun book called "Curious Rituals," which illustrates the "gestures, postures and digital rituals that typically emerged with the use of digital technologies." The book was released in September as a free PDF. It is a delightful experience to see these subtle moments we all recognize from our everyday lives captured and universalized. Here are three of the many poses described in the book, along with text from the authors explaining what's going on:

"Referred to as 'Cell Trance' in the Urban Dictionnary this way of moving
back and forth is often seen in public venues such as hallways, sidewalks, train
platforms, bus stops or shopping malls. To onlookers, the erratic perambulation
looks aimless, as if the caller is detached from his surroundings, absorbed in a
private sonic universe."

Figure2-Cell-trance.jpg

"'Baboon’s face' is is a gesture where the speaker covers both his mouth and the phone throughout the entire conversation. It keeps the conversation private, yet also shows consideration for both the speaker on the other end of the line and others in the vicinity of the speaker."

Figure1b-Baboon.jpg

"The original plan was basic: the passenger swipe her ticket at the gate or turnstiles. Over time, however, this changes as commuters discover easier ways to get the job done. They simple swing their wallet or handbag over the scanner, without bothering to take their cards out. Besides, who has the time? Commuters who do the wallet-or-handbag-swipe don’t even break their pace, they just learn to swipe in full stride."

Electronic-bag.jpg

My other favorites from the PDF, which you can read here, are "Waving at Sensors" (while on the john), "Lazy Viewer," and "Halfway Courtesy."

Images courtesy of Nicolas Nova

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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