Conversnitch: The Lamp That LiveTweets Everything You Say

Conversnitch: The Lamp That LiveTweets Everything You Say

"I think you have to make things provocative or even dangerous if you want people to pay attention," says co-creator Kyle McDonald.

Take a look around you. Where are you right now? Coffee shop, library, outdoors in a park, somewhere else? Is there a lamp nearby? Would you be happy knowing that the lamp you're sitting next to is live Tweeting every single thing you say? Say hello to Conversnitch, the lamp that does exactly that, and has been for several months.

Conversnitch is the brainchild of Kyle McDonald and Brian House, academics and media artists. It was created to be scary, to make people think about who might be listening and why; ironic that they came up with the idea just before the Snowden revelations. "You can't make this stuff up anymore," says McDonald.

Conversnitch costs less than $100 to make, takes maybe a couple hours to put together, and runs off the lamp's own power, which effectively means it lasts as long as the lamp does. It's made out of a Raspberry Pi mini computer, a microphone, an LED and a plastic flower pot. It uploads any captured audio via the nearest open Wi-Fi network, and sends it to Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Then the Turk workers upload the audio to Conversnitch's Twitter account. McDonald and House admit there have been some problems on the Turk end, and some Tweets were deleted when they began to suspect the Turk workers were falsifying quotes. Otherwise Conversnitch has worked exactly as intended.

The pair hope Conversnitch will get people thinking about their privacy, and the possibility that they could be recorded at any time, in any place. "What does it mean to deploy one of these in a library, a public square, someone's bedroom?" House asks. "What kind of power relationship does it set up?"

Source: Wired


I can't say I'm excited to hear this at all. At least, not the joyful kind of excited. I guess one thing we're going to see is just how much shorter marriages can get.

Hah, nice! I saw this earlier today when browsing Kyle's Vimeo channel. Cool and important work. The first tweets are rather funny, too.

So they're showing you can always be spied upon... by spying on people? What a novel idea.

Yay! Our ever diminishing levels of privacy just got a bit smaller, no one would ever use this for anything devious or underhanded surely. Congratulations you massive dicks :)

I'm not quite sure what the point in all this is?

"Look, we can set up a lamp to spy on you, what do you think the government are doing? What next sheeple, a fridge? Microwaves? Your comfy chair!? The only way to make sure you're not being spied on is to get rid of all your worldly possessions!"

Or something along those lines.

Yay! Death of privacy!

Now I can shour at people both in real life and on twitter simultaneously without having to change the method of output!

Sweet! Now I can go into public places and pretend I'm not crazy when I shout "I know you're listening to me!"

Apart from the rather flagrant breach of privacy here, I'm mostly amazed at that Amazon seriously has a service called "mechanical Turk" without it creating a media shitstorm somewhere along the way.

Missing the point of this project, aren't we?

"I know you're listening to me!" Uh, nope. Not to you, not to anyone in specific. And even in case of this device being installed in your home, the "you" disappears the very moment some random dude receives nothing more than one sentence of dialog.

Is your privacy violated when you are completely anonymous person_3217?

I think it's interesting work.

mostly amazed at that Amazon seriously has a service called "mechanical Turk" without it creating a media shitstorm somewhere along the way.

I also wondered about that, but! the Turk is apparently a thing.

Aw, its just a microphone.

I was hoping on some new tech that would allow light to be used to hear conversations but nope.

Why do people get worked up over this? We've been able to build shit like this for years.


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