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The Robot in the Garden

Hit or Miss

The Robot in the Garden

Previously, I blogged Ken Goldman’s TeleGarden, a tele-robotic art installation which allows viewers to tend and water a garden over the web. Now I’m reading Goldberg’s The Robot in the Garden: Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet, which looks at remotely controlled robots and the knowledge they can convey over distance. A lot of it is over my head, but I’m very interested in the parts which look at people’s skepticism in believing the reality and veracity of the information conveyed.

Was it just 4 years ago back at DePauw that the guy next door and I covered a mini Raisin-Bran box in construction paper, drew a black circle on it, and then hung it from the ceiling by our doors next to a sign that said it was a webcam? We then scanned some photos we had taken from the vantage point of the “camera” and wrote a simple javascript that served up random images from the “camera.” Just about everyone was fooled and some folks avoided our hall because they didn’t want to “appear on the internet.”

Then, just a year and a half ago, I finally got a real webcam and set it up in my dorm window. This time, people would get their roommates to watch their computer as they went outside and jumped up and down in the field of the webcam to prove it was real.

I guess people are getting more savvy about the internet and what is and isn’t real. But, on the otherhand, it amazes me how many of my friends were fooled by this (especially the “live” camera and “bio-monitor”) a few months ago.

More than ever, I want to get a Lego Mindstorms kit so I can set up something like this.