I’ve been intrigued by the idea of visual representations of data and actions in Cyberspace since the late ’80s when I heard William Gibson describe an idea for rendering the stock market as field crops, where you could gauge the health of the market and individual funds by the visual health of the plants, harvesting to sell, planting to invest, etc.; Wall Street brokers becoming croppers of a different kind of share.
So I like the idea, in theory anyway, of real-world avatars that physically indicate online presence. That’s the concept behind the Availabot, a USB-powered action figure that goes limp when you’re not on IM and ah… stands erect when you are. Each Availabot represents a specific user, so you need one (and an available USB port) for each user you wish to represent. This makes it impractical. Woulda been smart if they’d been designed so you could daisychain ’em, not that you’d likely want all of your Buddies loitering around on your desktop. This is really nothing more than a proof of concept (dreamt up by a UK design firm), and maybe a cool gift for a paramour you want to give a little something visual to remember you by. They can even be customized so that they look like you. No word yet on cost or when Availabot will be availaBLE.