Interactive Finnish Coffee Shop Puts Internet Users in Control

How much would you be willing to endure for a free cup of joe?

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Nestled inside a Helsinki mall is Kauko, a cafe which serves free coffee to all customers. But yes, there’s a catch. From their computers or smartphones, Internet users can visit the shop’s website to adjust the height of tables and chairs, dim or brighten the lights and play DJ.

If you’re in control of any of these aspects, live video streams let you sit back and see just how much you’re disturbing the peace. It’s certainly entertaining, but even though users can only control a given aspect for one minute, it’s still pretty tough to gain access before some other anonymous prankster beats you to it.

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The project is part of the campaign celebrating Helsinki’s status as the 2012 World Design Capital, and will only be in place until mid-February, Artinfo reported. Though it may seem that the purpose is to let random Internet users sit back and play God — or at least, play a vaguely voyeuristic real-life version of The Sims — it’s intended to question what constitutes good and bad design and the role of interactivity.

The site encourages users to play around with the various aspects to determine “what works well and what doesn’t.” NewsFeed is fairly certain they’re talking about what works well in terms of effective design, but we’re far more focused on what works best in terms of annoying people.

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