The e-vase:
Yes, everything will be wired eventually; even vases of flowers. BT’s Radical Multimedia Lab, based in Ipswich, have developed a prototype e-vase. The artifical electronic flowers represent your family members and friends. Each ‘flower’ glows brightly and perks up if that person has recently had a phone call from you. But a ‘flower’ dims, the light stutters weakly, and it droops if that person has been neglected by you. The vase ‘knows’ who you call because it monitors the numbers you call and the length of time given to each call. It can also add e-mail communication into the mix, and you can ‘teach’ your habits to each flower – so if you only call your cousin once a month, it won’t expect you to phone her every day. I can imagine a version which also lets you know if someone has been trying to contact you, and failing.

Artists and the tax system:
There’s an interesting December 2002 report just out from the Arts Council, A balancing act: artists’ labour markets and the tax & benefit systems (Word, 700kb). It’s free, 150 pages, and is based on interviews from a series of focus groups with practising artists, which explored their experiences of employment – both artistic practice and other employment/unemployment.