yeah, the machine has been up three days now, with a lot of learning involved. I'm working on the balance between telling people what to do and letting them figure it out for themselves, but I'm finding that most people approach the machine more as an art object and less as a machine that is meant to be used. Some people grab the handle to turn the crank, but let go when they feel the built-in resistance (designed to keep the handle from moving backwards and to give a sense of completion upon one full turn), they let go.
I arrived tuesday at noon to re-stock the machine (yes, most people just take), and it was gone. This was particularily shitty because I had plans to meet with two professors later in the day at the machine. No machine, not much to talk about. So I tracked down Dana, the facilities manager, and sure enough, the janitor had put it in storage due to some miscommunication. We hauled it back out there, straightened everything out, and now it is in for good. I met with both my profs that day, and they had really good insight for me.
After yesterday, these are some changes I plan to make this weekend:
add packaging to the deal, small brown bags printed in the letterpress lab to read "gift", and "please leave this bag with the machine" on the inside tab. these will help people understand that there are two sides to the equation, which I think most people are missing right now. It will alos bring emphasis to my appreciation of what it means to participate in a gift economy, and hopefully make people think about that a little bit.
I also plan on sanding off the current instructions, which are very ambiguous and a little too open ended (maybe I gave people a little too much credit). I plan to print a more detailed card which I will fasten to the face of the machine. I think the combination of these two things will make people's interactions with the machine a little more educational and help facilitate my ideas a little better. One more idea that might help things out is to put LED's inside the opening to create a glow coming out of the hole. I noticed that on the two adjacent pepsi machines, one has a broken light and the other puts off a nice glow. people always use the one that is lit up, even though the other one works just fine. hmmmm...