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Automotive Digitorium

In this overloaded digital age, we are all living out loud. Apparently, we're driving that way too, sort of.

For several years, I've been observing window decals on  large vans and trucks. I call it Facebook for cars- the attempt to put a human connection (showing family members with a decal) on the back of your vehicle.

I don't fully understand the reasoning. Is it for purposes of defraying environmental judgements (I drive such a large polluting vehicle because I have kids and dogs) or merely making an attempt at being personal (if you're thinking about driving like an idiot, know that I have a big family who may be riding along in the back or who expect me home). I've always felt my cars represented my identity but I never liked people who used them as status symbols. I've always adorned my cars with some subtle subcultural humor if I possibly can.

Some auto makers are embracing our continued obsession with personalization and identity by bringing Internet-driven content into the car, like Ford and its "Sync in-car communication system." If you listen to tech visionary Jeremiah Owyang, he believes built in digital updates (about needed maintenance) is probably what's coming next from cars (it's likely already here but not as sexy as Pandora and thus isn't mentioned outright). But Ford's system also lets drivers listen to a Tweet stream. Would you find that distracting? Not exactly a book on CD, right?

Giving devices a digital stream to communicate through is what Owyang calls "ambient intimacy." For now, we're starting with a stoplight, tailgating form of ambiance. We're using decals to communicate that despite how we're driving, we are human, we have families and reasons for choosing the kinds of vehicles we drive.

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