Affective Computing doesn’t feel right

Currently reading Affective Computing by Rosalind Picard of MIT. The book envisions computers that are trained to detect and express emotions, and thereby become better servants of people. I think the premise is badly misguided, but interestingly so.
One core flaw is that I don’t think you can have the features of emotions without the bugs. Emotions are integral to the pleasure and pain-seeking circuits of an organism. When well-tuned, they help the organism survive and thrive. When off-balance, you get addiction and depression.
The author envisions affective computing as a personal technology. But this doesn’t map to way emotions are build into the social nature of the human species. The circuits used for love and loyalty also run betrayal and tribal hatred. Given the frequency of divorce and war, it seems unlikely that we’d be able to do a better job invoking social emotions in machines.

Scoble doesn’t get Vox

In his BlogHer writeup, Robert Scoble dings Vox for being targeted at novices.

“As to Vox, the idea is great (expand blogging to more “regular people”) but I’ve gotta wonder how successful it’ll be. Microsoft’s Bob taught the world that no one wants to be a beginner, or seen as one. I think it’s condescending, don’t you? If you’re going to get dragged to learn to ski, don’t you want to get off the beginning slopes and hang out with your friends on the intermediate and advanced slopes?”

Vox strikes me less as blogging for novices and more like LiveJournal or MySpace for grownups. Vox takes the build-in social networking and privacy design patterns and applies them in an application that’s more tastefully designed and easy to customize. The Vox target audience is grownups wanting to communicate privately to friends and family. The challenge for SixApart is the need for viral spread of a more introverted application.
The younger culture is more extroverted, not to say exhibitionist. The tools spread across social networks defined by groups of friends and subcultures that want to reach out and leave their mark. These networks can spread like wildfire. The growth of grownup networks of public blogging, using tools like WordPress and MovableType, connected by implicit links and overlay tools like Technorati rather than explicit networking features, are driven by a different exhibitionistic impulse. For reasons personal and professional, many bloggers strive for recognition and fame. This can be microfame (say, bay area food bloggers) or macrofame (DailyKos), but there’s a built-in drive for attention.
The grownup friends and family networks that Vox seems to want to support are more stable and more private. People might want to share pictures of kids in the pool that they wouldn’t share on a public blog. The question is whether this quieter desire to share and connect will cross the threshold needed for viral growth and baseline success.