Introducing The Web apps Chindogu Society
Few days ago I stumbled upon the concept of Chindogu. “A tool that exists on the edge of reason” or the art of making/inventing everyday useful objects that are almost completely useless. Think for example of Hay Fever Hat, a strap-on roll of toilet paper that provides allergy sufferers with a continuous supply of tissue that’s always close at hand, Noodle Eater’s Hair Guard, or Baby clothes combined with duster so your baby can practice crowing while helping dust the floor. genius. Read more hereand here.
Apparently Chindogu has an international cult following of thousands of people with Kenji Kawakami being the head of the international society and the Dalai Lama of the Chindogu cult.
While exploring the wonderful world of Chindogu, I looked at some of the inventions and definitions and it became obvious that we need a sub-category/culture of Chindogu web apps and widgets. Over the past years, hundred of web apps and widgets, pipes and mash-ups have been built that are (exactly like the Chindogu objects) almost completely useless. Suerly each one of you readers have came across a web app / widget that made you scream in the sheer uselessness of it’s existence. Check out, for example that list of iphone apps.
So here we go. Let’s start a little wiki here. I started by tweaking / re-phrasing the ten tenets of Chindogu to adapt them to the world of web apps and widgets. Can you help with more examples?
The Ten Tenets of web apps Chindogu
Every Chindogu-app is an almost useless object, but not every almost useless app is a Chindogu. In order to transcend the realms of the merely almost useless, and join the ranks of the really almost useless, certain vital criteria must be met. It is these criteria, a set of ten vital tenets, that define the gentle art and philosophy of Chindogu. Here they are:
1. A Chindogu cannot be for real use
It is fundamental to the spirit of Chindogu that inventions claiming Chindogu status must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) completely useless. If you’ve developed an application which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindogu. Try the Patent Office.
2. A Chindogu must exist
You’re not allowed to use a Chindogu, but it must be made. You have to be able tolook at the interface and think ‘I can actually imagine someone using this. Almost.’ In order to be useless, it must first be.
3. Inherent in every Chindogu is the spirit of anarchy
Chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from the chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action: the freedom to challenge the suffocating historical dominance of conservative utility; the freedom to be (almost) useless.
4. Chindogu apps are tools for everyday life
Chindogu apps are a form of digital communication understandable to everyone, everywhere. Specialised or technical inventions, like a fatal error dialog with an “ok” button or, the memory address on the blue screen of death (the uselessness of which will only be appreciated by developers), do not count. (Thanks MikeT for help with re-phrasing this one)
5. Chindogu are not for sale
Chindogu apps are not tradable commodities. If you accept money for one you surrender your purity. They must not even be sold as a joke.
6. Humour must not be the sole reason for creating a Chindogu
The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humour is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem that may not have been that pressing to begin with.
7. Chindogu is not propaganda
Chindogu are innocent. They are made to be used, even though they cannot be used. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.
8. Chindogu are never taboo
The International Chindogu Society has established certain standards of social decency. Cheap sexual innuendo, humour of a vulgar nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the sanctity of living things are not allowed.
9. Chindogu apps cannot be patented
Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world – they are not therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. As they say in Spain, mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.
10. Chindogu are without prejudice
Chindogu app must never favour one race or religion over another. Young and old, male and female, rich and poor – all should have a free and equal chance to enjoy each and every Chindogu.
I’d really really appreciate your help with taking this further.
I will start with an app that I thought about as Chindogu even before I knew about the concept of Chindogu – Bkkeepr. An app that let’s you track the progress of your book reading. It’s a Twitter-based app that lets you keep track of, and share, your reading via your phone and twitter – an app that was built so you can tell yourself and the world that you’ve reached page 22 on Little Women. How Chindogu is that? (A tool that exists on the edge of reason, remember?)
naff said. I am tempted to tag some people for help but I won’t. What is your favourite Chindogu app?