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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: “tweenbots”

No, it’s not about cybernetic Hannah Montana fans:

It’s part of a project by Kacie Kinzer about social interaction and cooperation and helpfulness and what altruism we upright simians might extend to tiny adorable slightly anthropomorphic cardboard robots. I damn near cried reading about the project at Tweenbots.

(Thanks to my semicousin Gail for pointing this out to me.)



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  • i don’t know by what glitch, mishap or techno-miracle i was able to view this at work today, but it gave me a real lift! like you, when reading the project webpage, i felt a tear come to my eye. hopefully, when the aliens finally arrive they’ll find the same sort of sympthetic encounters. as long as they look cute, friendly and helpless, i guess. heaven help them if they’re slimey, or ugly.

  • bats :[

    I’m sure this is WAY before your time, MaryAnn, but there used to be little plastic containers, red with eyes painted on them, call Oobi. There was a slot in them, and you’d slip a note into Oobi, then write the receiver’s address on the outside. No fair dropping these in the mailbox; the intent was to put Oobi somewhere public and have folks move it toward its destination.
    I have an Oobi around somewhere; it was too cute to send off into almost-certain oblivion.

    Of course, there’s more information on the Internet:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oobi_(toy)

  • Accounting Ninja

    Awww…gotta love the little one with the note: “Call my Family”. Too cute. :)

  • Arthur

    There might be hope for our species…

  • Mimi

    It’s interesting how cute she made them — especially the newer versions (http://tweenbots.com/newBots.html). Proportionally large heads, wide-set eyes — those are baby features we’re instinctively driven to go “awwww” and care for. I wonder if the results would be different if they were less cute/helpless looking.

    Not to take away from the sweetness — it’s very sweet!

  • MaryAnn

    I think the artist/experimenter’s next step should be to send an ugly robot out on its own, and see how many people help it. Not as many, I bet.

  • Mimi

    Yes — I’ve been trying to think of what an ugly robot would look like, for purposes of this hypothetical experiment. Is the opposite of “cute robot” a mean-looking robot or a non-humanoid robot?

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