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Friday, March 25, 2011

The hammer and the keyboard 



In the everyday use of tools, their operation becomes routine and normalized. Interfaces work in the same way. When we switch devices there is often a certain amount of disruption and we are thrown back on the stubborn materiality of our instruments of control, those tools that we normally experience as being straightforward - become almost invisible. 'Heidegger's hammer' is a way of explaining how the tool recedes from view in daily use. Its visibility is heightened when 'the tool turns out to be damaged or the material unsuitable.' (1962:102). That was my experience operating the above keyboard. Nothing went well. I had to look a bit closer to see that the familiar looking object was subtley different. The letter arrangement is not the usual QWERTY layout, but the Belgian equivalent. It disrupted my operations, I became hesitant and dependent on an expert to guide me.

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