Sometimes you find the most interesting things in the most unlikely places.
The New Yorker arrived today, and I was idly paging through it when, in the Talk of the Town section, I came upon a short item about Margaret Atwood’s new invention.
Who knew the great Canadian author, whose most recent book, “Oryx and Crake,”
is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction, was also a tinkerer?
She has created a machine that allows an author to remain at home while autographing books in faraway bookstores, anywhere on the planet.
It’s a two-way video hookup with a robotic pen arm at the bookstore end.
The author sits at the kitchen table in pajamas and makes a personalized inscription for the book buyer by writing on an electronic screen; in a distant mall, the robotic pen replicates the message on the title page of the fan’s propped-up book.
Atwood came up with the idea last spring during an expensive and exhausting three-week publicity tour for “Oryx and Crake.”
She says the invention will be manufactured by a new company called Unotchit (“You no touch it”).
The author believes the device will increase both the safety of the writer-reader interaction — “My germs and my bio-material won’t be in the same place as your germs and your bio-material” — and its profundity: “I’m more likely to be gazing deeply into your eyes as I’m signing on the screen.”
From the article:
- And she insists that there will be no apprecialble lessening of an autograph’s authenticity, because writing is already only a distant cousin of thought. “The mind is a device that is thinking out the signature,” she said.
“The hand is the extension of the mind, and the pen is the extension of the hand — so the pen is at two removes from the author’s mind already. This thing is just another remove.”
Atwood plans to launch her invention this fall.
“We’ve just built a clunky, Model A prototype of the machine, and we don’t have a name for it yet,” she said.
She’s come to the right place for marketing advice.
Call it the RightAway.
Not bad, eh?[via Tad Friend and the New Yorker]