Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for January 28th, 2006

Inanimate Empathy

Posted by Trixter on January 28, 2006

My very first digital camera broke today: A Casio QV-3000EX, purchased in early 2001. The second 3-megapixel camera ever on the market, it took brilliant outdoor shots in automatic mode, and took generally stellar pictures if you knew how to use its manual settings (f-stop, apeture, shutter speed, and more). See for yourself; here are some shots taken in full automatic mode:

Lee and Alexis HaskellJohn, Sam, and Max Leonard

I took the time to learn a few things about amateur photography and how to use some of the manual settings, and it took some the best 3MP shots I’ve ever done:

Tree In FogChicago At Dusk1-minute chickKite in Sky

I loved this camera. I mean, I really got to know everything about it, what its strengths were, weaknesses, and more. when I put it in the trash, I felt like I was burying a friend.

And right now I’m thinking, why? Why am I personifying this camera like it’s a friend that I’ve lost? Why do we, as a society, project empathy onto inanimate objects like they’re people? Several times while writing this post, I wanted to use terms like “my camera gave up the ghost” or “it finally died”. I felt strongly enough about my first computer that I wrote fiction from its point of view. People call ships and planes “old girl” or even actual female pronouns like “old bessy” or “nellie”. It’s fascinating, and probably answered in a psychology book somewhere.

I’m going to replace it with a used model, probably off of ebay. I wonder if it will mean as much to me as the original did.

Posted in Sociology, Technology | 4 Comments »