First there were just hats. They kept us warm, or, for the rich, proclaimed our status. Then society became adept enough at manufacturing to crank out hats on a whim. You could have a hat to identify you with a baseball team, or, later, even with something pretty specific, like a tuba convention. Then
Cafe Press came along, and you could have your own personal message on a single hat.
It is time we took hat customization to its logical extreme. My whims come faster and faster as rapid technological advances shorten my patience. If I'm walking through a snotty neighborhood, I want my hat to say I HATE THIS NEIGHBORHOOD; if I'm finally getting to the end of a 72-minute-long wait in line, I want my hat to say THANKS FOR MOVING THAT LINE ALONG; if I'm buying flowers from an attractive florist, I want my hat to say YOU HAVE PRETTY EYES, BUT I'M SHY. I want to express bold opinions without giving them any thought, then change my mind when someone points out what a dolt I'm being.
I don't want a hat with an obviously digital display; that is geeky and easily dismissed. But some digitized process will have to be in play. I am led to think of those thin, flexible, non-illuminated, black-and-white digital-paper displays that They are rumored to be working on: things with little plastic rolly balls that are black on one side and white on the other.
The controls? Who cares, there are lots of reasonable options. Everyone seems to carry little keyboard-equipped pager devices around with them. Perhaps soon those suckers will just send out Bluetooth to anything that will listen.
Which, ooooooh, that would be a GREAT little game. Each hat could have a really insecure security code, like the 2-digit numbers old answering machines used to have. You could give out your hat combo to friends as a mark of trust or a means toward mischief; imagine several people at a party wearing them, with their codes actually shown on the hats. Or, if you ran across a stranger with a signboard hat, and you were sufficiently bored and determined, you could go through all possible combinations until you cracked their hat.