November 20, 2004

A Linux Distro for Barbie?

Category: Wholesome — Biella @ 10:23 pm


A Linux Distro for Barbie?

Making a bid for a piece of the emerging desktop Linux market, Mattel, Inc. announced the immediate availability of downloadable beta ISOs for BarbieOS 0.99, and said it hoped the final 1.0 retail version would be on store shelves in time for Christmas. The new OS was created by Mattel to power the upcoming revision of its popular B-Book line of laptops for girls between the ages of four and eleven. The original B-Book laptop, which ran a modified version of PalmOS, was a huge hit with consumers last holiday season, so much so that many stores had trouble keeping them in stock. This year, Mattel is upping the ante by making the B-Book into a full-fledged desktop replacement targeted specifically at toddler through preteen girls who are currently Windows users but may be seeking alternatives, possibly due to increasing licensing fees or out of a desire to break free of vendor lock-in. Read the Rest..

What a brilliant parody that so misues and abuses the cherised Name and Object of Barbie and all her glittering associations. According to Bill Brown, the “misuse of objects” is wherein lies a dual political possiblity. To misuse an object is to change its ontological status from an object (that assumes a sort of uncritical closeness) to a thing, which has its own autonomy, experienced as distant and seperate from us and those ripe for reflection. Misuse dismembers objects from “the systems to which they’ve been beholden” (1998:953). A dismemberment that actualizes a freedom that breaks open, for all that are privileged to witness and herald creative abuse, the conventionality of meanings that we place on objects, whether the spoon that feeds us or the Barbie doll of our past. Yet as much as misuse is essential and essentially pleasurable, we can never obliterate all meaning for that is the nature of human sociality: to extend ourselves and connect to objects and others through the medium of meaning. Our intersubjective meanings are the glue that binds, for better or worse, in good and bad, us and objects together in an awfully dense matrix of meaning and power.

Yet when we can no longer see the medium of connection as something alterable, as something that is in our partial control, then it is time for playful and vulgar misuse. For if we are subject in blind and capricous ways to our systems of meanings, then there is no way to critically appreciate what it is that binds me to you, you to me, and all of us to each other through the objects of our daily use.

Bill Brown. 1998 “How to do with Things (A Toy Story). Critical Inquiry 24: 935-964.

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