A tale of two Furbies.

November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have owned two Furbies in my life.

The first was a birthday present when I was 12 and Furbies had just arrived on the toy scene. The second ( I am slightly ashamed to admit) was my Christmas present at the age of 21. (there is extensive documentation of my 21 year old self tearing through the packaging on Christmas morning, which actually devalued the object significantly so I’m told. whoops.) My experience with Furby no. 1 was standard to that of most electronic pets. It had a few days worth of novelty appeal before we locked it in a cupboard never to be activated again. At the time Furbies were everywhere, just another electronic product that failed to live up to its promise. 10 years later it was a collectors item (especially the gizmo one) and obtaining one involved purchase from an online nostalgia toyshop. I think differently about this Furby, it is a piece of design, a moment in the evolution of technology and  in my own history and life story. I had no qualms about dissecting the first Furby during the first wave of my inquisitive robot obsession, but couldn’t imagine destroying the second. So many outside factors effect our relationship to objects. Even two Furbies that are essentially exactly the same can be viewed and treated in a completely different way when impressed upon by time and circumstance, one was an expendable piece of consumer culture, the other, a treasured artifact that is imbued with meaning beyond its basic companion function. I am still me, but my knowledge and understanding of the physical world changes and allows me to see old Furbies in new ways.

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