Culture: Sign
Thought Bubbles   (+8, -1)  [vote for, against]
Anecdote Avenue

If ever I won the lottery, this is the idea I'd spend all of my money on baking. It would make the world more beautiful.

I could take you to the place where I fell for my first girlfriend. She was sitting on top of a wall, and I was looking up into her eyes, and we both realised the Romeo and Juliet connotations, and a bond became instantly apparent.

The wall itself was a bit ramshackle, in a rather grim part of an industrial city. People walked past it every day, heads bowed to the wind, consumed with daily life.

Now imagine that I committed this memory to paper, and sent it to a department of my local council who filed it, along with other stories. Stories about the park bench where two friends bumped into each other 30 years after leaving school, and instantly rekindled their friendship. The shop outside which Hannah's baby muttered her first words: "Jam Doughnut". The spot when Joanne Twigg visited every Thursday until she died, feeding the birds with crusts of bread, and remembering her brother who died in the war.

Once a year, the council department would find the best, warmest, and most life affirming stories from the files, and engrave them onto brass. The brass would then be encased into a beautiful glass "thought bubble", maybe 10 inches in diameter.

The thought bubbles would then be installed at the exact spot of the original event. In the same way that graffiti is proven to make people feel unsafe, these thought bubbles would remind people that moments of beauty are happening around them all the time.

Maybe the people walking past my wall, bowed against the wind, might stop and pause and smile on the way to work.

The bubbles would also look very pretty.
-- Fishrat, Nov 06 2003

ThoughtSponge http://www.halfbake.../idea/ThoughtSponge
lots of bubbles, in real time [neilp, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Toronto, Ontario, Canada has a baked version of this [krelnik, Dec 14 2004]

That's a lovely idea [Fishrat]..

You have proved to be a great addition to the 1/2B community.
-- madradish, Nov 06 2003

my gran had a seat, dedicated to her, outside the salvation army building that you could just see from my mum's house. it was falling to pieces and we always meant to replace it. my mum wanted to add bro's name to the plaque as he loved her so much and I always intended adding her name as she was such an angel. thanks fishy for reminding me - this is something I must do. lovely idea!
-- po, Nov 06 2003

Yes, that is a wonderful idea. One of those rare, very human, wonderful ideas. +++
-- sartep, Nov 06 2003

This is wonderful. I think the glass may soon get broken by morons though (unfortunately).
-- squeak, Nov 06 2003

Moron proof glass?
-- madradish, Nov 06 2003

Thanks for the warm response to this idea, everyone.
-- Fishrat, Nov 06 2003

rule 498:b. never say thank you. comes after never apologise :)
-- po, Nov 06 2003

sorry [po].
-- Fishrat, Nov 06 2003

-- po, Nov 06 2003

My aunt had a bench and a tree dedicated to her memory outside West Oxfordshire Council's offices in Witney. I went back there a couple of years ago (she died in 1987) and they were still there - it brought back a lot of happy memories.
-- PeterSilly, Nov 06 2003

Great Idea (and I like people who say thank you so ignore [po] and his/her rules). Perhaps in the UK, lottery money could be used to fund the expense of the plaques/bubbles and to allow for regular check-ups to ensure they hadn't been vandalised. Maybe a TV-show highlighting the best stories each month would also be inspiring. I would nominate the driveway of my old house in Scotland where I first clapped eyes on my wife - but I don't know that what I was thinking at the time would be appropriate for public viewing!
-- dobtabulous, Nov 06 2003

Good one.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Nov 06 2003

A nice idea. One weakness is the presence in the loop of the "council"- cash-strapped and liable to political interference with bubble selection and content. The other is the presence in the community of kids for whom such an officially sanctioned expression of emotion is an open invitation to vandalism.

A more feasible albeit techno-themed variant of this could be on the way. Mobile phones will soon provide accurate position information to the service provider. By subscribing to the "Hearts of Gold" list, customers could get heartwarming local stories beamed to them as they walk the streets.

Alternatively they could tune into the "Teen Rebellion" list with pictures of fat spotty youths sitting on the wall dressed as Marilyn Manson and messages such as "this is where me and my mates got so f****ed on spliff and glue that we soiled ourselves".
-- shameless_self_reference, Nov 06 2003

I like this idea because it would give a deep sense of history and community to a town. Soon thought bubbles would be everywhere, and people would know each other a bit more. You'd know that your neighbor Fred Frampton skinned his knee on the corner of 5th and Elm when he was seven saving a stray cat from a car. You'd know his great grandmother met her love on that very corner.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 06 2003

I like it. +
-- Condiment, Nov 06 2003

Beautiful, [fishrat] ... great half-baking! +++
-- Letsbuildafort, Nov 06 2003

//The other is the presence in the community of kids for whom such an officially sanctioned expression of emotion is an open invitation to vandalism// Maybe I'm being ridiculously optimistic, [shameless], but I'm hoping that eventually kids would be less inclined to vent their frustrations on their environment once the thought bubbles gave them a stronger sense of emotional connection with the place they live. In the interim period, build them out of [madradish]'s moronproof glass, and feed anyone who manages to vandalise them to the local crocodiles.

[worldgineer] I love your story - that's the idea.
-- Fishrat, Nov 07 2003

Fills my heart with joy and tenderness.
Peace, love and........
-- sufc, Nov 07 2003

...and bubbles?
-- Fishrat, Nov 07 2003

Think what a beautiful place the world might be if we didn't need moron proof anything or graffiti cleaners...+
-- stringstretcher, Nov 07 2003

// the council department would find the best//

Yes yes, very nice and sweet, but a vote for this idea is a vote for socialism. And before long, there would be quotas for demographic groups, and there’d be arguments over what constituted the most beautiful thought. Then others would start scratching graffiti on the thought bubbles.
-- ldischler, Nov 07 2003

Um... In my city we vote in council members.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 07 2003

There's one. ----> ( ) ?
-- k_sra, Nov 07 2003

I'm getting a cheesiness overdose here. And plus who is to decide what thoughts count as life affirming? makes me want to become a vandal.

What about: "under these bushes Bobby got his first blow job" Is that life affirming enough?
-- Aluxe, Nov 07 2003

Anarchy Burger -- The Vandals
-- Letsbuildafort, Nov 07 2003

Sorry [UB]. Normally I'm the one that points out that socialism and democracies aren't opposites. You may be joking about primary school teachers, but where I grew up it was drummed into us that communism and socialism were synonymous with evil. Took until high school to question it. Damn cold war.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 07 2003

i think this idea is great! way to go!
-- babyhawk, Nov 07 2003

wonderful idea, but letting politicians decide on the "thought" is WRONG. Nothing like giving them more power to feed their egos.
-- oldenough, Nov 07 2003

[olde] Yeah, we'd better not implement this wonderful idea because someone's ego might be fed. Hell, maybe we should shut down society. That'll teach the damn politicians.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 07 2003

Elegant.. Love It
-- The Kat, Nov 07 2003

...a small shop at the coast. We were listening to a wonderful piece of music together. We brushed lightly against each other and didn't try to move away. The feeling was...comfortable, warm. I can remember looking into her eyes. Her eyes said so much. I saw She had the eyes of a child. Not clouded by the 'cataracts' of time and age or hurt...

Croissant for making me remember.
-- Klaatu, Nov 07 2003

Well I am not going to support cheesy avenue. And if a council is in charge that can easily happen. It needs to be fair and accept different views. Sex is a dirty vulgar thing to some while its a life affirming gift from nature to others. Are the council members going to think an anecdote is inappropriate because sex is involved? Mushrooms and LSD are seen by some people as shamanic doors into other worlds. While to others these are drugs that are going to turn your kid into a terrorist who is going to accidentally run over a little girl and shoot himself playing with a gun. So are the bubbles for everybody? Is Ann of Green Gables drinking tea going to get a bubble and Jim Morrison naked on lsd not be considered? I don't want to burst the bubble, I am just concerned about the council.
-- Aluxe, Nov 08 2003

So vote in a council. Then it's the majority of the people that is deciding the thought bubbles. We're not talking about major life changing decisions like health care and zoning - I think they we handle it.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 08 2003

I've given this one some thought. I've decided I don't much care for it. Specifically, I really don't like the brass-inside-glass thing. It's way tacky. The bubble concept isn't working for me at all. Glass gets scratched and cloudy and dirty... don't need it. Plus it looks like a Cingular ad. So lose the glass.

I'd much prefer to go with just an engraved stone plaque of some sort. Small, inobtrusive, not in your face. Subtle works here... it enhances. These are subtle points, they should be subtly made.

I do like the overall concept though, but watch the sentiment... it could get real smarmy real fast if people aren't careful. Keep 'em to a minimum - an overload of these would be enough to make me go elsewhere. One or two in a given park, tops.

And that "Jam Doughnut" thing? No way... over-the-top smarmy there. The bird lady, sure.... remembering her brother who died in the war, though? Get rid of that. I'm not in love with the park bench thing, but it's alright.
-- waugsqueke, Nov 08 2003

how many bubbles can you put on a street? and would they be relevant to the next generations?
-- SmartyPants, Nov 08 2003

//a vote for this idea is a vote for socialism// Nope, it's a vote for glass thought bubbles in the street. I agree that the 'council department' bit doesn't sit right though.

So (if I won the lottery) I'd start a charitable fund to run the Thought Bubble instalations. With unlimited cash to entice a dream team of "bubblers", I'd ask [waugs] to choose the most worthy memories, [blissmiss] to design the bubbles, and [madrasidh] would head up security.

Arthur Miller would handle all PR literature.
-- Fishrat, Nov 08 2003

Just because they're there doesn't mean that you have to read them. [waugs]
-- Condiment, Nov 08 2003

Spot on, [waugsqueke]. Spot on. <chuckles>
-- k_sra, Nov 08 2003

// Just because they're there doesn't mean that you have to read them. //

Well there's not much point to them existing, if you take that view.
-- waugsqueke, Nov 09 2003

The thing about vandalism is that it has to be (in general) a small energy expenditure for a larger effect. So you make it too hard to vandalize. Also the intrusiveness and the question of who decides have to be addressed. So instead of a bubble of translucent material with brass in it, how about a simple stone (Concrete, plastic) pedestal with three buttons and a holographic projector? Button 1 turns it on and buttons 2 & 3 are for scrolling up and down a menu to the memory your interested in. A person simply pays the City Council a small fee to have themselves recorded speaking of the memory and to download it to the appropriate marker. Solves the problem of being intrusive as you have to choose to push the button and view the selections.If anyone paying the fee can have their memory recorded without question of content then the issue of whose memory is the best becomes moot. I'd probably only want to see something like this in limited places. Maybe a place dedicated within each city park where people can go to see them (sort of a shrine to peoples memories?)
-- soundman, Nov 09 2003

//make it too hard to vandalize//

I've seen graffiti in places that construction workers in cherry pickers can't get to. I've also seen it in places that require council approval for major service shutdowns in order to gain (official) access. Making something harder to vandalise really makes little difference.

I think that a tiny brass plaque would be fine. The simpler, the better (and the cheaper, the better).
-- Detly, Nov 09 2003

It's depressing that we're falling into the "don't make anything beautiful because someone will destroy it" mindset. This is exactly what Thought Bubbles are meant to counteract. Why not just build money into the budget to fix bubbles that get broken?
-- Fishrat, Nov 10 2003

Or, better yet, since so many things can only happen so many times at the same place... just replace the cloudy scratched up ones with a new memory once it gets too old to read.
-- barnzenen, Nov 10 2003

Or have a high voltage difference between the bubble and the ground. Um.. and a warning telling people not to touch the bubbles.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 10 2003

[Fishrat] I do like this idea :)
-- Detly, Nov 10 2003

Nice one, Worldgineer. But who will clean up all the dead morons?
-- RayfordSteele, Nov 10 2003

[barnzenen], //just replac[ing] the cloudy scratched up ones with a new memory once it gets too old to read// is a great idea. Their impermanence would add a Keatsian value to their beauty. People peering through the cloudy bubble as the memory became more and more elusive seems metaphoric, too.
-- Fishrat, Nov 11 2003

i'm speechless.
-- the_coffeegirl, Nov 11 2003

I like the general point of the idea but have similar objections to those raised by both shameless and waugs.

Also, just a simple plaque saying 'Joe Blow skinned his knee here when he was twelve' doesn't really mean a whole lot to most people. What makes these things meaningful is knowing that Joe Blow grew up in the house opposite with the red door and married his teenage sweetheart when he got back from the war in Vietnam but they were divorced after a year and he died of cancer ten years later. Isolated snippets don't quite do it for me.

I think that a better way of doing this would be to have vending machine thingies (a bit like the newspaper ones that they have in the USA) scattered around the town. Then the council could offer a service whereby you could write your own leaflet giving a guided walk to events of personal significance. The council would produce a small number of them and they could be stocked in the vending machines, perhaps with other literature that the authority wants you to read, and people could just select one whenever they fancied going for a ramble.

It's not quite as romantic as your original idea, Fishrat, but I think that it's more likely to be baked this way. Anyhow, croissant for the concept.
-- DrBob, Nov 11 2003

Neat idea, [DrBob]. Why don't you post it separately, too?
-- Fishrat, Nov 11 2003

Don't need to. It's here already. Also, people posting minor variations as a new idea rather than as an anno on the idea that inspired them is one of my pet hates on the 'bakery. It just creates lots of unnecessary clutter.
-- DrBob, Nov 11 2003

This is one of those rare, BEAUTIFUL ideas that remind me why I kept coming back to this place... and stayed. Gracias Fishrat!
-- Pericles, Nov 11 2003

<Fishrat cuts and pastes [DrBob's] comments to his Big Book of Unspoken Bakery Etiquette> Thanks, [Dr Bob].
-- Fishrat, Nov 11 2003

I think that this could actually take the form of vandalism, and be much more beautiful than a bureaucratic implementation, also you wouldnt have to win the lotttery to make it possible. Simply widely advertise the idea and whoever likes it does it. Also this would be a much more healthy and beautiful way than the most common method of just writing your name on the wall of fighting the white wall, good wall mindset. Inevitably people would write in places that in most cases would be considered awful such as national monuments or peoples houses, but for me at least, it would add a lot of meaning and enhance basically any space you could choose to write, short of right over other peoples statements.

If you are completely against vandalism, consider this, you look at all of these walls everyday, and they mean nothing, the people who "own" them claim tohave the right to control what the passing people see, but what if this was controled equally by everyone who had to look at that wall, you would have an actual sense of the people that live in the area, instead of a sense of a blank wall. If this was legal, tagging would go down because most of that is done because it is illegal, and the tagging that was done would be much more thought out because there would be no fear of being arrested.

This is a beautiful idea. These plaques should replace street signs. (jk)
-- spiff, Nov 16 2003

back of the head?
-- po, Nov 27 2003

"this is where I killed my first cat. go away"
-- sweet, Nov 27 2003

<self indulgent> Freaky. I just came in to read this message after running over a fluffy ginger cat. It just dived under my wheels and I could do nothing to avoid it. I feel terrible, even so. No thought bubble, thanks [sweet]. </si>
-- Fishrat, Nov 28 2003

I'm no good with mechanics - if someone did urinate on one of the round glass bubbles, would it splash back, or flow round?
-- Fishrat, Jan 12 2004

Hey, this has been baked in Canada! See link.
-- krelnik, Dec 14 2004

Yay Canada! Good idea using cell phones - could make the bubbles/signs smaller and less obtrusive.
-- Worldgineer, Dec 14 2004

Bone from me, because I do not like the involvement of a city council in the decision of what is warm and moving. Government is terrible at these types of judgement.
-- bungston, Dec 14 2004

random, halfbakery