For you to understand this post, there are two things about myself I should tell you — they’re already well-known to any of my friends:
- I drink a lot of Coke.
- I have catastrophically bad eyesight.
More below the fold.
Right now Coke is running this promotion called MyCokeRewards, wherein every time you buy a Coke product, you get a little 12- or 15-character code, which (when entered into their ridiculous website) adds points to a running total. Eventually you can exchange the points for “free” stuff (it’s not really free — you have to buy the Coke, after all). For example, I downloaded a DRM-encrusted song which was actually a medley of the themes from Pirates of the Caribbean. The prizes are mostly silly but I figure, I drink a lot of Coke (see point #1) anyway, so why not accumulate points and get something back?
Enter point #2. While the codes for 12-packs are printed on the little flap and are easy to read, codes for individual bottles are printed on the individual bottlecaps. For a host of reasons (low light, smudged print, etc.), the bottlecap codes proved impossible for me to read. All told we were talking something like 9 points in a contest where you need something like 3000 to get anything good. On the other hand, I felt entitled to those points, having bought the soda.
So I got out my handy-dandy Vivistar digital camera, threw on “macro” mode, and snapped a shot of each cap. Really. Then during playback I zoomed in and read the codes with ease. Ta-da! Technology to the rescue. This is the sort of unanticipated spin-off effect that drives futurists nuts. No one would predict that owning a digital camera makes participation in Coke give-a-ways easier, and for sure, this benefit didn’t show up on my own pro/con list when considering getting a camera. I wouldn’t have bought it just for this use. But now that I have the camera, a host of unexpected uses have occurred to me, each making my life a tiny bit easier (though none so far afield or as goofy as this one). It’s a lot like “exaptation” in biology
In any event, it’s why I love gadgetry. I love being able to take a device, or several, and get out more than the designers intended. Not as a gotcha-game (“See how much smarter I am than you!”) but as a tiny sliver of creativity, that random thread that keeps the picture interesting.