CAPTCHA Your Humanity
Trent Gilliss, online editor

“Are you human?” is an art project from Danish architect Aram Bartholl that is just plain smart. Since you’re reading this blog post, I’m assuming you’ve had to decode one of these frustrating combinations of tiny, distorted letters and numbers that make you prove that you really are human in order to progress in your online journey. Nothing makes me feel less human, and more idiotic, than trying to decipher these CAPTCHA codes.

Bartholl says of his work:

“I like to think about what this relationship is from computer to human and now the computer’s deciding if I’m human or not. And then I take this element out of the net, out of the computer and and put ‘em in the city. And I put them next to graffiti because graffiti are codes too, which are readable to just a certain group of people.”

Are You Human?Bartholl’s playful juxtaposition of these strange codes captures an elemental struggle I have in trying to create new relationships with our readers and listeners. Our staff works very hard at making these virtual interactions more human, less robotic. But sometimes it’s not enough.

And, we hear from so many people who want to physically connect with like-minded thinkers who long for meaningful conversation. And sometimes a website or a blog or Facebook isn’t enough. We’re continually trying to think of ways of doing this better. Got any ideas?

Share Your Reflection



As a software developer, I'm always amused by people's perceptions of what 'the computer' is doing to/with/for them. Perhaps someday our anthropomorphizing of computers will hew closer to reality, but in the meantime, please remember that a human created the system that you're interacting with.

Vis a vis physically connecting with the like-minded: SOF flash mobs?

I like this juxtaposition of CAPTCHA codes with GRAFFITI (there, we give it the same emPHAsis). Bartholl has done us a service by putting them together. CAPTCHA is about stating what we are not to a program, i.e., not a robot, as much as stating what we are, i.e., a person at the keyboard. GRAFFITI is about stating that its author is not invisible, as much as turf wars which is another way to say "I belong".