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Frankenhand is alive ... meet LongPen
August 11, 2007 12:31 PM   Subscribe

LongPen from inventor (pdf) Margaret Atwood
posted by phoque (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The Frankenhand has been a source of interest over at Bookninja for some time now.

The cruelty of adoring fans wanting an autograph ... the mad scientist Margaret claims benevolent motivation.

It apparently has passed the all important hockey stick test too.

Pure propaganda promotional videos as well as articles and photos can be found on this oddly constructed page.

The cost of the machine has yet to be determined.

A LongPen™ signature is claimed legally valid.
posted by phoque at 12:34 PM on August 11, 2007


While technologically cool and certainly green, this is precisely the sort of thing I'd expect Atwood to rail against in a novel. How cold and impersonal. It's like getting one of those Mold-O-Matic animals out of the machine at the zoo without going to the zoo. What kid would trade seeing the real animals for a wax facsimile?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:46 PM on August 11, 2007


"According to fans, this is a more intimate experience than a traditional signing."

HAHAHAH
posted by tehloki at 12:47 PM on August 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


As used by Metafilter's own jscalzi.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:55 PM on August 11, 2007


Be nice tehloki, I'm sure the people in question were raised by robots.
posted by quin at 1:04 PM on August 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Next: the long dildo.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:05 PM on August 11, 2007


A LongPen™ signature is claimed legally valid.

This may be the case, but there is a problem with holding the signature apart from the physical act that defines its authenticity. A distance signature could be hijacked from the signer. This doesn't mean it can't be hijacked without it, but at least the art of hijacking it isn't remote or distant.
posted by Brian B. at 1:06 PM on August 11, 2007


this is precisely the sort of thing I'd expect Atwood to rail against in a novel.

You know, I thought she was railing against the extermination of the human race in Oryx and Crake, but now I'm not so sure.
posted by bobo123 at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


She was definitely rooting for Crake through the whole thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on August 11, 2007


Yeah, bobo, Oryx and Crake is a novel about how humans are just fucking terrible, and what a wonderful place the world would be without them.
posted by tehloki at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2007


Peggy Atwood?! This has got to be some kind of practical joke.
posted by Flashman at 1:17 PM on August 11, 2007


In Oryx and Crake I'm reminded much of Vonnegut's Galapagos and Hocus Pocus, in that both authors seem to have grown more fatalist in their art as they age.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 PM on August 11, 2007


Yeah, this will go well. Forget man-in-the-middle hijacks, let's talk about the inevitable next step: automatically-generated signings, because modern human interaction just cries out for more artificiality. We need as many possible barriers between our elected and elite and the gibbering mass of consumers. You may not look us in the eye, you may not shake hands. You gave us your money from your McJob, now piss off.

Thank you, thank you, Wire Mesh Mama.

Max Headroom + Flowers in the Attic + ghostwriters + LongPenTM = decades of sad thirteen-year-old girls having video "chats" with the long-deceased V. C. Andrews at convenient book signing stations, unaware that they are talking to nothing more than a hopped-up ELIZA.
posted by adipocere at 1:31 PM on August 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


A LongPen™ signature is claimed legally valid.

So is that of the venerable Autopen, but collectors don't want signatures made by them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thomas Jefferson's had a shorter reach, but maybe the signer could still have been in a protective box.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:57 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


"As used by Metafilter's own jscalzi."

Indeed, I did a signing with it; I was in New York, and the books and signees were in Anaheim, at a technology convention (I forget which one).

The general response to it was pretty good; people were interested in the actual machine, and could see and hear them and they could see and hear me through a video link, so there was a face-to-face feel mediated by technology. And people seemed pleased to get an autograph-by-proxy.

Now, it's worth noting that in this case the people getting autographs didn't pay for the books, and the whole thing was a showcase for the technology, rather than a showcase for me as a writer (other writers also did Longpen sessions that day). In those circumstances people were happy; whether people would be happy to pay for the books and then have them signed by a Longpen is another question entirely.

However, I enjoyed the Longpen experience and I wouldn't mind doing it again. It was fun to play with. That said, given the choice between it and being there, generally speaking I would prefer being there.
posted by jscalzi at 2:00 PM on August 11, 2007


A LongPen™ signature is claimed legally valid.

All "electronic" signatures are valid now, and have been for a while.
posted by delmoi at 2:03 PM on August 11, 2007


Oh my god! thought the long pen was anothe spam for enlarging a penis
posted by Postroad at 2:34 PM on August 11, 2007


As if I needed another reason to hate Margaret fucking Atwood.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:38 PM on August 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


All "electronic" signatures are valid now, and have been for a while.

Yeah, but tell that to Legal at a conservative corporation. Luddites, allum!
posted by cortex at 4:03 PM on August 11, 2007


God, if I have to hear any more marketing-speak, I'm just gonna puke. It's a cute idea (cute like sugary breakfast cereal), but the marketers who put together that commercial really need to be rounded up and shot into the sun.
posted by DarkForest at 4:13 PM on August 11, 2007


weapons-grade pandemonium - Next: the long dildo.

There're already teledildos in existence.
posted by porpoise at 4:39 PM on August 11, 2007


As seen on longpenisgreat.com
posted by pracowity at 4:59 PM on August 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I call dibs on Ouija board application.
posted by squasha at 5:00 PM on August 11, 2007


Hello, my name is Margaret Atwood and I want to keep up the money from book tours while not getting up off my lazy old ass.
posted by GuyZero at 5:51 PM on August 11, 2007


As seen on longpenisgreat.com

Personalization and community-centred preview to be found at my.longpeniscoming.com.

Sorry. I know Ms. Atwood would purse her lips in disapproval.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:37 PM on August 11, 2007


Welcome to LongCat.
posted by oats at 6:52 PM on August 11, 2007


This isn't new, I've been eating longpig for a long time. Wait, what?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:49 PM on August 11, 2007


humans are dead
posted by spish at 9:33 PM on August 11, 2007


Having seen this in action, I find it a bit hard to believe that a LongPen signature is actually legally valid; there are slight but distinct differences in a LongPen recreation that mark it as artificial, though I'm sure the tech people are working those issues out. On the other hand, delmoi makes a good point—the digital signature you write on a crusty Wacom tablet at the DMV or the courier's portable barcode scanner have at least some authority, probably legally so.

Also, the only times I've ever heard of anyone actually using the LongPen have been to demonstrate the wonder of the LongPen.
posted by chrominance at 10:17 PM on August 11, 2007


Isn't there a Japanese word for people who invent wankingly useless technical solutions to nonexistent problems? Whoever designed this machine has misunderstood the point of signing books.

adipocere: because modern human interaction just cries out for more artificiality

Indeed. Why not just fax her signature if she can't be bothered to show up at her own book signings and tell people to paste it in the books themselves.
posted by Termite at 2:57 AM on August 12, 2007


Not to totally derail, but I've never understood the widespread dislike for Margaret Atwood as a writer here at MeFi - not just because I really like her, but also I've never seen this amount of dislike for her in any other context/forum. If someone wants to explain, or give me a link to some reviews or criticism or something, I'd be interested.

As for this LongPen thing, it kinda sucks, and I'm disappointed in Atwood for thinking it's a good idea. If I just wanted a signed book, I'd buy one on eBay or something. At a book-signing, part fo the fun is having the author to be right there (I still have very fond memories of meeting Brain Jaques at a signing when I was about 11).
I work for a politician, and I'm a huge fan of the Autopen - we'd never get anything done without it (the amount of mail we send out is truly massive). However, when my boss gets requests for signed photos or books, he definitely signs them himself - to Autopen those would be tacky.
posted by naoko at 8:21 AM on August 12, 2007


no mister oats, this is the real longcat.
posted by bruce at 9:36 PM on August 12, 2007


I think we should only use LongPens for e-books. That way no one needs to ever leave their house.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:19 PM on August 12, 2007


Are you guys in the LongPen 15 club?
posted by rmless at 10:44 PM on August 12, 2007




Isn't there a Japanese word for people who invent wankingly useless technical solutions to nonexistent problems?

Yes. They're called Chindogu.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:25 AM on August 13, 2007


I'm frankly quite surprised that one of my favorite authors of all time came up with this - it seems not quite her bag.
posted by agregoli at 7:45 AM on August 13, 2007


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