Implementing the Demon-Haunted Notebook
I recently posted a sketch of a notebook that demands use, and complains loudly to you and others when you neglect it:
The notebook would have a unique name and id, and a daemon would watch for “tribute” — online sharing of what you put in it.
The tough bit of implementation would seem to be defining a way to pay tribute, and to make it fun and easy, rather than onerous.
Here are some ideas towards that goal, compiled quickly over coffee with no real editing.
Magic Email Address
The notebook could have a “secret email” address; take a photo and share it with the daemon via email.
Good: Simplest. Photo-and-email is built into every cameraphone in the world. Easy to understand and explain.
Bad: Least “magical” feeling of the options. Needs the daemon to act as a gateway to your other social services, which is a bit more of a pain to build.
Magic Twitter/Flickr Tag
The notebook could come with a twitter hashtag and/or account. Take a photo of the book and post with the hashtag, and the daemon accepts it as tribute.
Good: Simple. Posting photos with specific hashtags is a tested and acceptable use pattern, and it’s trivially easy to write a bot to watch for them.
Bad: Not much, really. More spammable than other options, maybe? Requires you to point the daemon at specific accounts/feeds?
An RFID tag in the book activates a desk-mounted camera when you place it in the right spot; a picture is taken and posted to the daemon by special client software running on a PC connected to the camera and RFID reader. The daemon then posts the picture to one or more preset social sharing systems; it acts as a gateway.
Good: all you have to do is put the notebook in a specially-prepared area to capture to the daemon.
Bad: requires a specially-prepared area with an RFID reader, document capture camera, PC running special software, etc.
Magic Image Parsing
The book’s pages could be marked with an easily-parsed visual marker in a predictable location: when you photograph or scan a page and submit it to, say, Flickr or Twitpic, the daemon processes the image, identifies the marker, and accepts your tribute.
Good: no hardware or software required on client end, works with any given cameraphone, can watch an RSS feed or twitter stream so daemon doesn’t have to act as gatekeeper
Bad: requires some very clever image processing mojo on the server side. Also, visual markers are often large and ugly, and take away from the notebook canvas
Magic Pen & Notebook
You could use a Pulse LiveScribe and a prepared notebook, with special client software running on the livescribe pen. As soon as you docked the pen to charge it, the daemon would something something magic and your stuff is shared.
Good: No special behavior required except use of the notebook and regular docking of the pen, once software is installed on the pen.
Bad: The LiveScribe is a horrible writing experience, akin to using one of those cheap multiple-color plastic pens you sign your work order with at a mechanic’s office. Its software is clunky and painful to use, and the special-microdot notebook paper is slick-feeling and unlovable.
I’d need a demon to force me to use it.
That’s it, really. A thought experiment, taken too far.
I have no real plans to implement this. Maybe someone will find it interesting and run with the idea, and perhaps not: time will tell.