The way we currently experience the Internet is primarily concerned with the visual, and, to a lesser extent, the auditory. The Internet is something “somewhere else”, a separate world that we gain access to through the combination of screen, mouse and keyboard that you probably have sat before you now.
So you can see and hear all that stuff in the Internet, but not much else. Last week, we were talking about ways of widening and diversifying this interaction - how can touch, smell, balance, taste etc. be just as important a part of the way we experience the web?
Smell is an area that has been explored in design and architecture to an extent, but usually only in relation to marketing - think of shops like Subway or Lush, whose distinctive (some would say invasive) odours are as much a part of their brand identity as their products and imagery. In fact, I find you often smell these places before you see them, and, crucially, instantly know exactly what that particular smell means.
Smells can affect us in ways that we are not always particularly aware of, which is not surprising given the very visual culture that we have all grown up in. On a subconscious level however, smell has very strong links to comfort, memory and experience - it can open up pathways in your brain to different moods and sensations that hit you very suddenly and profoundly.
Over the next week or so we’re going to be working out what the “Internet of Smells” might be. How it connects to the internet, how regularly we should catch a whiff of it, and why and in what situations it could be genuinely useful. Its about enriching and broadening our interaction with the web - and considering an internet culture that engages more than just a couple of our senses (hopefully without making another iSmell).
What do you think the Internet smells like?