Marrying the Berlin Wall

You never know what you will learn when you go to New York. Now imagine you have gone to New York to attend a trends conference. Trendy locale, trendy talkers, trendy audience. Trendy snacks even. At some point someone will step on stage and begin to talk about a subject so out there, so future-forward that it will take you a very disorienting five minutes to rein it in, grab the edges, and get even the most fundamental idea of what it is about. After which it will likely shift the way you see the world.

Here’s how it happened to me at PSFK’s New York trends conference. A brilliant guy called Kevin Slavin stepped to the stage and, after preemptively excusing the occasional lapse due to a fever, he began telling the story of Eija-Ritter Berliner Mauer who, having fallen deeply in love decades ago, married and has remained devoted to her spouse through all manner of trials and tribulations. The least of which, according to Eija anyway, is that her husband is the Berlin Wall.

I sat up straight. I began to listen intently for a punch line. There was no punch line. We had left the known world and found ourselves in a strange territory. This territory is where all objects are seen as animate and capable of interacting with us. You think marrying the Berlin Wall is really weird, right? But you don’t even blink when your sneaker tells you how fast you ran a 6K and congratulates you on a personal best. Well, you say, that’s Nike not some delusional belief that objects can really earn our affection and communicate with us. Kevin Slavin has news for you—this world in which our physical and digital reality are merged and melded is already here.

Now, let’s end with a question: what object would you take vows with to live for ever after? The Berlin Wall is out; it’s already taken.