The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00409: Green Social Software

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Environmental Defense Fund, Meet-Up, Viridian Aromatizer Contest
Attention Conservation Notice
It's a stirring call to arms from people who have called to the American population into the righteous streets for, oh, forty years or something. Also includes yet, even lots more, wordy, ingenious entries in the Viridian Aromatizer Contest.


This Viridian contest got Boing-Boinged. Pray for me.

Important Global Warming Fight!

April 12, 2004 5:54:30 PM CDT

"Dear Bruce,

"We are at a critical moment in the fight to undo global warming!" (((I don't want to sound all politically cynical, but suppose we lose this "critical moment." Does that mean we oughta concede defeat and give up fighting the Greenhouse Effect?)))

"Last October, the Climate Stewardship Act won a surprising 43 votes in the Senate. While that was an important moral victory – we need 51 votes to win the real victory. Grassroots support will be critical to hitting 51 votes next time!"

(((Let me page the many Europeans on Viridian List. Europeans, suppose that you were an American Senator. I know that's farfetched and kind of repugnant, but – if you were, don't you think you'd just blandly contact some Yankee zillionaire's Political Action Committee and buy yourself some "grassroots support"? That's pretty much the way politics runs in the modern USA, right? Are you kind of amazed that some Americans don't seem to get this yet?)))

"The momentum is building across the country for action on global warming, but we need to turn up the heat to win! (((Hey, uh, nice metaphor.)))

"One way to help: sign up for the Environmental Defense Meetup and get together with people in your local community to get more active on global warming. The next Meetup is April 28, so sign up today:

(((This part is novel and therefore kind of interesting. Maybe some day some community will get toasted by an insane greenhouse heatwave, and then some org like Environmental Defense will throw a MeetUp, and there will be some kind of total flashmob freak scene, and half the city will show up.)))

"Over 4,500 people have already signed up across the country. (((Y'know what? Viridian List is almost half that size, and we don't even have a budget!))) And last month, hundreds of supporters in 80 cities attended Environmental Defense Meetups to get more active to undo global warming – and had a great time! Sign-up today!

"To sign up go to:

"Next MeetUp: Wednesday, April 28 at 7pm. Where: Your Community (You help decide) What: Meet New People & Get More Active on Global Warming

"Sign up, or find out more about Environmental Defense Meetup at

See you there!

Help make our MeetUps a success. Sign up to be a MeetUp leader to help organize and facilitate the Environmental Defense MeetUp in your community. It's fun and easy. We'll give you all the support you need! To volunteer, sign up for MeetUp at

"Then send a message to us at
with your name and contact information.

"More people = Better MeetUps = A cleaner environment.

"After you sign up for Environmental Defense MeetUp, be sure to invite a friend:

"See you at our MeetUp on April 28th!

Sam Boykin
Coordinator of Activism and Outreach meetup*

((("You Go, Enviro Guy... and take those Birkenstocks with you." Meanwhile, back in the vast, odorous bowels of the Viridian aromatic thinktank...)))

Re: Viridian Note 00406: Viridian Aromatizer

blocksom* (Jonathan Blocksom)

Attach a mini visible smoke emitter to the end of a laser pointer. Then you can see the beam. Your next Powerpoint presentation will be like something out of Blade Runner!

From: mktr* (Michael J. King)

Warning sensors

Someone coming – recluse, someone on the lam, paranoiac – unwanted person at the door, on the grounds, within the perimeter aroma as "silent" alarm.

Secured area soaked by Aromatizer. Intruder, cannot avoid being invisibly, silently scented while crossing certain halls or rooms. (Clinging smells cannot be turned off like burglar alarm, cannot be easily cleaned)

Self-defense vest: get grabbed from behind and a puke-inducing gas sprays the offender.

Smell dangerous airborne chemicals that you wouldn't smell otherwise – CO, radon – sensor attached to Aromatizer

Scent ID tags – how can you be sure that guy's not walking out of the cafe with your ibook (they all look alike)? Make him tell you – how it's supposed to smell – pine? no, it's bananas. Sorry, you lose.


necklace, undershirt, belt, bracelet – punch in to have sophisticated scents emitted, always appropriate to changing social situations

also useful in bordellos too rushed to give their prostitutes time to shower (quite water-conserving that way)

Wake: The deceased have an odd non-smell. Why not tuck one of these gizmos in an inside jacket pocket and let them smell the way that they did when alive.

Smell-o-gram: forget sending some corny email greeting card, send your friends a card that emits the smell of fresh paella!

Emit gasefied pharmaceuticals while you sleep. Medical inhaler with low-concentration, long duration applications – for chronic diseases, to treat allergies, to change body chemistry.

People on respirators (e.g. in a hospital). Give them pharmaceuticals right through the breathing apparatus – clean, no need to inject and break the skin (useful in non-hygeinic areas). Also won't upset the stomach the way that pills can. Computer-regulated dosages.

Positive reinforcement: (all-drug sports leagues) football player crosses the goal line, gets a huff of mistified methamphetamine.

Aromatizer combined with ancillary lines of clothing/lingerie/tattoos that react to aromas.

Aromatizer peripherals change color, light up, sparkle, go translucent/transparent, disintegrate, change flavor

Surreptitious tracking devices

For tracking by dogs.

Emits a gas odorless to humans, but easy for police dogs to sense (or emits a gas to be sensed by computer). Track the person – they can be tagged with airborne molecules.

Who used this computer workstation? (Telltale scent from machine makes it useless to erased all of the log files. Each scent is unique to each computer -- that way, can correlate the person's use of a particular machine). Similar tracking applications for closed cars, closed offices, or intimate contact with another human being.

For the hearing-impaired: scent means phone's ringing, someone's at the door, kitchen timer, you've got mail Blind people navigate new buildings: braille pda lists rooms and scents. Person wants the bathroom, the commissary, the elevator, a particular office, pushes the button for the place and navigates by smell

Bio-sensor senses that a person's going to have a seizure, senses it beforehand, emits a smell, person knows to prepare himself

bio-sensors (urine check) for fertility, cancer, malnutrition, blood-sugar problems, etc. etc. a scent is much nicer than an
alarm or a flashing light or whatever.

Build a whole host of Pavlovian responses based on Aromatizer smells.

Train people/animals, whatever, to do (fill in response here) whenever they smell, say, bubble gum (there's a whole Manchurian Candidate problem here)

Food education – learn to cook well, or brew beer correctly, or drink wine like a connoisseur: learn what these products should smell like when they are done perfectly. Compare and contrast.

Commercial tie-in with cooking or cook-book programs.

Also good for restaurants – preview its dishes by smell – from the comfort of your home computer.

fire alarm in hotel: "real" smoke smell gets people awake and out of their rooms (no laggards figuring that it's a false alarm, drinking beer and waiting out the sirens).

Ciao, Michael J. King - The online community for Yellow Dog Linux users

From: tux*
(Joel Westerberg of the Viridian Curia)

A Viridian olfactory plug-in module, managing energy generation. Located in the central fuse-box of a house: it would emit its scents, whenever the owner wandered by.

It would create the smell of:
Ozone: showing the amount of power consumed at the moment in the house
Honey: the amount of power generated by the house's own devices (example: solar panels) Tar: the amount of power brought in to the system from the fossil-fueled grid
Fetidness: the amount of power consumed in the house by vampire electrical devices in pointless "standby mode".

Another idea: the smelling-salts alarm device.

It would emit a powerful ammoniac smell that makes you become fully alert very quickly. To be used by in-plane or in-car systems, to resurrect unconscious pilots after a multi-G turn, or to waken narcoleptic drivers before they run off the highway.

aromatizer contest (Adrian Cotter)

Yay, another contest. It has been too long.

"Word of Nose" – approval-disapproval rating mechanism(s)...

This would be particularly useful for modern day protesters who are no longer let anywhere near the people they disapprove of. Form a long line of disapprovers (or enter the meeting hall), and then you and your cohorts let rip.

At a concert, or a lecture, send off a pleasant odor appreciating the performance. No more annoying clapping.

If a bad restaurant smells funny (or perhaps doesn't smell at all), your knowing fellow customers will back out sooner than they would otherwise.

of course, restaurants and such might start to buy maskers or their own scents to counter-act the ratings. Connoisseurs could leave scent trails through the city. Tourists would follow their noses.

adrian cotter

p.s. Mr Groepler should read Mark Budz's book Clade, where society's structure and relationships are directed through pheromones and other nose/skin ingested molecules. Also the book Perfume by Peter Suskind.

ReFresh Aromatizer Service

email* (Matthew Rubenstein)

ReFresh Aromatizer: Follow Your Nose (TM)

Walk smoothly through noxious clouds of an all-too-organic 21st Century, when you plug in your ReFresh Aromatizer.

Like noise-cancelling headphones, these Viridian noseplugs resynthesize smells opposite to the odors in the environment. They're totally porous, allowing breath to be drawn naturally, as well as allowing undistorted speech. But they emit enough countersmell to neutralize the odor in the air, while you are working/playing/sleeping in stinky conditions. A gateway to freshness you can trust.

A Bluetooth device, ReFresh works in conjunction with a mobile phone, as well as optional Bluetooth glasses and headphones. The countersmell itself is determined by wireless Internet lookup in a GIS database of GPS:odor factors.

ReFresh biometric field teams have already mapped the most notorious stinkholes in cities, suburbs, malls and industrial sites around the world, seeding the odorBase.

Sniffing your way off the beaten path, at a jobsite or new clearcut? A Bluetooth sensor on your belt dynamically samples the air thousands of times a second, with a laser spectrum analyzer, keeps you up to date in our peer-to-peer community of noses-about-town.

Certain neighborhoods are so moldy and nasty as to be uninsurable and therefore uninhabitable. For you, though, these cheap locales are as fresh as a baby's bottom, thanks to ReFresh protection. Toxic clouds are flagged, allowing prudent navigation to breathable areas, as shown clearly on your phone.

With ReFresh as your guide, you're always in the clear.

From: nehrlich* (Eric Nehrlich)


The Aromaker

(Ad for boys)

Hey boys! Remember that really really gross smell you wanted to save so you could share it with your friends?

Well, now you can! The Aromaker (a doglike robot) has a sense of smell unparalleled in the natural world. It will analyze the smell, record it, and generate it on demand whenever you ask.

Want to stink up your sister's room? Get some dirty socks, give them to the Aromaker, and have it sneak in and release the odor!

Think of the possibilities! Recording a smell is as easy as telling your Aromaker to "Record Skunk!" (or Dirty Socks or Mud) and the playback command is "Play Skunk!"

(Ad for girls)

Hey girls! Don't you hate it when you have to deal with those smelly boys? Well, now you won't have to!

The Aromaker can make any room smell pleasant. Give it a scent that you like, and it can record it and later replicate that scent whenever you want, flooding the room with sweet perfume, wiping out the smell of your brother.

Never deal with a smelly room ever again with your Aromaker!

Ad for parents

While your kids may enjoy the Aromaker for its possibilities of fun, you can rest easy while they're playing with it. The Aromaker is programmed to detect several dangerous gases, such as sarin gas or chlorine gas, and automatically goes into protection mode, generating enough oxygen for your child to breathe.

It will not generate sarin or chlorine, no matter what the suggestion.
It will also faithfully lead your child to safety away from dangerous fumes.

So while your kids are playing pranks on each other with their new toy, they're protected from extreme dangers. In an uncertain world filled with terrorists who have demonstrated their willingness to use any tool, won't you feel safer if your child is protected by an Aromaker?

revenge of the smell-o-vision

viridian* (Willie Beegle)
April 12, 2004 10:50:13 AM CDT

An idea from my wife: immersive fiction.

Imagine an audiobook with a scent cartridge and a hidden track that tells the Aromatizer when to fire.

Re: Viridian Note 00406: Viridian Aromatizer

tdrosen* (Trevor Rosen)

Addition to a survival kit: this would be a stand-alone device programmed to give off the scents of plants that a stranded survivor might be tempted to eat. Poisonous? Tasty? Now you know.

Dead Candy Project: digitize the smells of candies that no longer exist except in the collections of obsessive eBay eccentrics. Consider, for instance, the sour candy explosion of 1993, which brought us such defunct candies as Warheads, Crybabies, and Lock Jaws.


From: anansi*

For astronauts,submariners, or firefighters in training, equipment malfunctions could emit the appropriate smell, so when the real thing happened, there would be an automatic memory jog.

To train forestry and agriculture types, replicate the smells of plant diseases in the classroom.

For doctors and nurses, replicate smells that indicate specific treatable maladies.

Chat environments for instant messaging could incorporate smell as part of the theme.

Automobiles could release a particular scent that means, "pull over" when an emergancy vehicle is within range. Hackers might use a similar signal to alert a driver to speed traps.

Drug smugglers could use the technology to drive detection dogs away from their trail.

From: gosnell.10* (Scott Gosnell)


Couple the aromatizer with one of those "electronic nose" chips and record events for later playback and distribution over the net:

Your first date, including the fascinating mixture of her perfume with the odor of the pizza parlor, fading into the smell of popcorn and stale sodas at the movie theater.

That unusual scent coming from underneath the baseboards.

Your sweatsocks, clean and dirty, etc

From: dphelan* (Dave Phelan)


My beloved is very poor at turning off lights when she leaves a room. Now our watts come from a renewable electricity supplier, so all we're doing is sending them more money, but it would be nice to have some sort of reminder.

The Viridian Power-scent solves this problem. When a room is vacated for longer than the set time-out (default 5 minutes), the Power-scent starts to emit an odour (odour is user selectable from a wide range). The odour intensity increases over the following hour, propagating throughout the dwelling, and providing an olfactory clue that there is a light which has been left on elsewhere.

Of course, the optimal use of this is for a third party walking through a front door, and getting to say: "Oh my god! The smell! Who's left a light on?"

The mechanism can be expanded to any electrical appliance, but only
technology I have which is currently signalling its status via olfactory means is my cat's litter tray.

Dave Ph

From: stewarts*
(yet more entries from Duncan Stewart of the Viridian Curia)

Babies. "It's about their comfort, not yours." Diapers have wetness sensors that notify you when they're ready to be changed. Small countertop/family room aromatizers let you know when it's time to take care of the little one.

From: ted* (Ted Stevko)

Here's a few ideas for the aromatizer device:

Use the device as a diet aid; smell is a significant portion of taste,
can you use smell – or lack thereof – to eliminate the body's need to have food? Smell also has power over emotional states, what if you could trigger smells to create a full feeling or a not-hungry feeling?

Contrawise, use the device to enhance an otherwise bland meal – put in
savory and appealing smells into your system without having to spend money on expensive foods.

Use the device as a dating service. According to this site:

smell can trigger positive responses from other people as potential mates. People seem to be attracted to people with opposing immunotypes, which exude a particular smell.

Use it for long distance produce assessment. Coffee, tea, wines, and some types of produce are judged based partially – if not completely – on smell. With this device, you might be able to produce a
system which sends the smell across communication devices.

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