Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Technofetishism XXXVIII

My mom and dad have been online for several years now, but my mom has never taken to the Net -- or the PC -- like my dad has. Part of it is where they have the computer set up at home. It's kind of in my dad's "space," and because he's the primary user, my mom is often frustrated when he changes the desktop and file setup. She can't find what she's looking for, and even if she learns how to do something, she often has to relearn as files and applications move around.

While my dad just got a new laptop to use as their primary computer -- dedicating their old desktop to operating his model railroad -- I thought it'd be a good idea to get my mom something that she could use to get online, email family, and so forth. Something that would be hers. Something that would be in her space. So I bid on an old Ergo Audrey from 3Com on Ebay.

Originally introduced in 2000, the Audrey was a Net appliance offered as part of a proposed Ergo line of consumer electronics devices to be used in the home. Designed by Ideo, Razorfish, and 3Com, the Audrey is a sleek device with a petite countertop footprint. No longer available via retail -- and no longer supported by 3Com -- the Audrey has emerged as a quaint technological artifact ripe for hacking.

While I don't expect my folks to tweak their Audrey so it's networked, streaming MP3's, or a Linux device, I've already received two emails from my mom, sent from the Audrey -- in the kitchen. And that's a good thing. Finally, my mom can get online her way in her space on something that is hers. Even though 3Com discontinued the Audrey, the company deserves thanks for helping to bring my family closer together.

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