The Poking Machine

While social media has its undeniable affordances, we don’t need a conference to tell us we’re reinventing our expressions of emotion online. We’ve steadily relegated our handshakes, glances, winks or smiles to below those of digital “pokes” and “likes”. In a parody turned technical, Dutch artists Jasper van Loenen and Bartholomäus Traubeck developed the Poking Machine, showcased at the alt-conference Unlike Us held in Amsterdam on 8-10 March. It’s a wearable device that physically pokes a person whenever a friend virtually pokes them on Facebook. The Poking Machine consists of a custom-built circuit (ATtiny, servo, battery, and bluetooth module) that connects to an Android phone that tracks incoming pokes. The circuit is housed in a coloured laser-cut box that users wear on the arm. While people happily poke away on Facebook, Van Loenen and Traubeck are poking fun at us. Even without the benefits of hindsight they can see the future. There’s little disputing that in years to come, digital poking will not go down as one of mankind’s finest moments.
Poking Machine
Poking machine
Poking Machine

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