The Borgfest “conversation initializer” has turned out to be hugely successful in inviting people to come talk to us about our expo on human augmentation, enhancement, modification, and wearable technology, but why? Over the last couple days of SXSW, we’ve worn the face jewelry and were quite surprised by how many people engaged us despite its relative lack of “functionality.” “What does it do?” or “What is it?” people kept asking and our response was that it is a conversation initializer. Success! But when pressed for what else it does, we’d simply say what more is necessary? Isn’t starting conversations the most important tool one can have? Once you’ve got people talking, anything is possible. And then magically, one at a time, everyone we spoke to got it. This low-tech piece of jewelry seemingly accomplishes what Google Glass cannot–it turns people on, rather than off. It won’t matter how much more capability is added to Glass if it continues to inhibit conversation rather than encourage it.
And how does this insight relate to Borgfest? Simple. Borgfest is not just a technology conference for people with disabilities or people who are intentionally modifying or augmenting their bodies. Borgfest is a culture festival supporting people with changed bodies and impacted identities. We exist to foster pride, innovation, and solutions for the cyborgs among us. See the difference?