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Moving Away From The Digital City

(I’m in a foul mood today.)

All you people with your augmented reality unlocking the digital city outernet designing the sentient city rhetoric and toys? You know what you’re making?

Street Clippy.

Now fuck off and make something that’ll do useful work on a phone in a village, instead of something that’ll get you laid in fucking Hoxton. Make something that has meaning outside a major metropolis.

Oh jesus, I’m sorry, you were working on building the urban digital future playing Foursquare and I disturbed you.

(I’m off to kick the cats.)

(Yes, playing Devil’s Advocate a bit. But, see above about foul mood. An article I’m not linking to because they don’t deserve my ire just tipped me over the edge into shoutiness.)

Published in brainjuice researchmaterial


  1. MG MG

    “I see you’re trying to escape Blackpool, can I suggest that you cut your wrists lengthwise?”


    Uses cutting edge facial recognition software to answer the eternal question:
    “Aren’t that Emma’s Boy?”

    Cor, they grow up so fast these days.

  3. Outside the city? What, like the sub-urbans?

  4. James James

    That needed to be said ages ago. I love this.

  5. I’d love to, Warren. And when someone tells me how I can do that and feed my family, I will. Until then, the urban digital future is keeping my child fed.

    I mean, seriously. I’ve tried to build things that have meaning outside of cities, and preferably do something good for the world. Generally speaking, it’s gone pretty damned poorly, for two reasons: 1) Nobody wants to pay for it, and thus we go back to the ‘feeding my family’ issue, and 2) The people outside the metropolis’ could give two shits for things that work on a phone in a village, by and large.

    If you want proof of this, check out the sad, fucked up history of the One Child, One Laptop failure.

  6. Nicholas Smith Nicholas Smith

    Agreed a thousand times over, I live in GenericSmallTownInTheNorth and the aug-reality tools are near enough pointless unless I’m in london on business

  7. Ah mate I am so with you. It’s actually one of the central reasons I’m not trying to make anything using AR yet. For me at least it’s just not there yet (granularity of GPS is shit and without it AR is pretty boring IMO), and if you’re just making another “urban game” for hoxtonites your energy absolutely is best expended elsewhere.

  8. Bang on.

    I moved to the country, was troubled by the uselessness and irrelevance of the new shiny out here. I got on with it and started designing something that might be useful, might be relevant. There’s more in the sketchbook, when time allows.

    The village is a nice pair of slippers for surviving the future

  9. Well, on the subject of useful AR:

    You may have already seen this–it popped up some time ago on Bruce Sterling’s blog, which past comments of yours indicate you follow; if it slipped by then, here it is now.

    Not directly useful in a village yet, but more close to being applicable I think–certainly villages have their fill of capable but uninformed folk who would like to fix their damn boiler on their own.

  10. […] Reality or Just Arrrggh November 10, 2009 ryan Warren Ellis weighs in on his frustration with the current batch of augmented reality applications for smart phones: Now fuck off and make something that’ll do useful work on a phone in a village, […]

  11. Lyle Lyle

    I’m confused, isn’t getting away from the fast paced, nobody-knows-their-neighbors modern urban environment the point of moving to the country? I live in a city now, but grew up in a small, small town and I agree with Ben Trafford: the majority of people in rural communities don’t want to see the world through a digital lens.

    I do agree that AR is a solution looking for a problem, though. We have this nice, shiny new tech and nobody knows what to do with it. Hence, street clippy. That’s ok, though. The electron was discovered decades before anyone figured out a practical use for it. Who knows, maybe gathering enough static to shock somebody was a new, hip game back then.

  12. None of this junk ever seems to get where I’m at.

    But that’s just one of many annoyances living here in the City of Churches.

  13. Anonymous Anonymous

    While we’re at it, someone should do an AR porn app.

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