Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you right now


The crash, at about 10am GMT, caused Amazon customers to complain about not being able to play festive songs, turn on their living room lights or get cooking instructions for Christmas dinner.

Richard Hyland tweeted: “Good day for Amazon’s Alexa to crash. It’s not like people might want to register new devices or play music or anything.”

As I understand it, this man is communicating in a format whose message length is limited to 280 characters in order to speak ironically about his inability to play music because of a failure in connectivity between a listening device in his home and the computer servers of a multi-billion dollar corporation.

I am pondering the thinking behind these people’s difficulty. One chooses to make one’s ability to turn the lights on or play festive music in one’s living room dependent on the functioning of an always-on microphone which eavesdrops on the conversation in one’s home.

What concept can Amazon Alexa customers have of “private conversation”?

How might limiting message length to several hundred characters affect one’s ability to formulate an argument?

Has irony become a default tone for public discourse? If discourse is programmatically ambiguous, if content is by default freighted with incongruity what effect might this have on one’s ability to frame and interpret argumentation?

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