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Social networking just got real

The experience of social networking is starting to spill out of the Internet and into the physical world.

August 25, 2012 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - In the 1995 sci-fi thriller Virtuosity, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, the virtual bad guy from a supercomputer crime simulator (played by Crowe), managed to escape the world of software and make it into the real world as a nano-tech self-generating Android. That's a far-fetched premise, but Virtuosity was a great movie anyway.

In any event, the code sometimes does become real, at least in the world of social networking. As norms and conventions from sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram become popularized online, entrepreneurs and artists are finding ways to bring them to life.

A Likebook

A real
Facebook book

A company called Egobook will download the content from your Facebook profile and print a hardcover book called a Likebook.

The book is printed in the colors and broad look-and-feel of Facebook and includes your photos, status updates, comments, albums and more. It's just like your Facebook profile, but made out of dead trees.

This is great for people who love Facebook. And it's also great for people who hate Facebook, because you can burn it!

Clothing hangers with 'Likes' displayed

A Brazilian fashion retailer called C&A advertises clothing on its Facebook page. The hangers that hold clothing in the company's physical stores have display screens that show the number of "Likes" specific items received on Facebook.

This is dangerous business; I'm sure trolls would love to find the ugliest thing in the store and "Like" the heck out of it, just for laughs.

Like (and Dislike) ink stamps

Just like you can "Like" things online, the Like stamp from ThinkGeek lets you stamp things -- your office paperwork, your kids' homework and even posters and notices you see around town -- with a thumbs-up "Like" icon. (And, unlike Facebook, there's also a "Dislike" option.)

Let's all hope these don't become popular, or the world will become covered in "Like" and "Dislike" logos.

Like box
Like box

Like box

An "interactive object" art project by a German artist named Mario Klingemann resulted in a box with a "Like" button, and a display showing the number of likes. The wonderful thing about this as an art piece is that you know exactly how many people liked it. Klingemann made and sold 12.

Look for these on eBay.

Poking machine

Facebook has a weird, quasi-meaningless convention called "poking." However, two Dutch students decided to make it real with something they call the "Poking Machine." It's a box lashed to your arm. When someone "Pokes" you on Facebook, the box physically pokes you in the arm.

I have to admit, I'd be more likely to poke someone on Facebook if I knew they would really get poked.

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