Jim Henson made this film in 1963 for The Bell System. Specifically, it was made for an elite seminar given for business owners, on the then-brand-new topic — Data Communications. The seminar itself involved a lot of films and multimedia presentations, and took place in Chicago. […]
The organizers of the seminar, Inpro, actually set the tone for the film in a three-page memo from one of Inpro’s principals, Ted Mills to Henson. Mills outlined the nascent, but growing relationship between man and machine: a relationship not without tension and resentment: “He [the robot] is sure that All Men Basically Want to Play Golf, and not run businesses — if he can do it better.” (Mills also later designed the ride for the Bell System at the 1964 World’s Fair.) Henson’s execution is not only true to Mills’ vision, but he also puts his own unique, irreverent spin on the material.
This is great. It’s mostly just goofy Rube Goldberg-esque fun, but as usual with Henson, there’s an undercurrent of real human need and emotion, rendered slightly ridiculous by its presence in a (vocally) non-human character, but poignant none-the-less. It’s the same trick he played so well with frogs, pigs, and Whatevers.
For more Henson appreciation, check out Khoi Vinh’s recent post here, and I posted another early Henson clip here.
On the author’s initial rush upon encountering the site for the first time and setting up a profile:
Through Facebook, I had what one might call in Lacanian terms a late-onset mirror stage. As my own spin-doctor and publicist as well as the single most important consumer of the brand I was trying to launch, I bought into myself. Early—around 2005 or 2006—I had some of my greatest victories: photos of myself that became instant classics in my own mind, personal mythologies; both the principle source and the principle engine of a precarious glamour that existed nowhere offline.
And eventual disillusionment:
The novel is concave; it allows you to spy on the interior realities of fictional people. Facebook is convex; it allows you to spy on the exterior fictions of real people. The opposition, far from complementary, implies a crisis of the human heart. A reward for looking into the depths, the novel is a catalyst for empathy. A punishment for seeing only the surface, Facebook is a catalyst for envy, and therein lies its inevitable moral exhaustion.
“I have never felt, consulting the I Ching, that it was “wrong” in the state it gave me; not because there is God or fate in divination (I believe the coin process to be an expression of randomness), but because it’s probably true that if there are 64 states or basic ways things can be, then at the deepest level of truth, all of these states are probably occurring at once.”