Bruce Sterling’s WIRED article on Dumbing down smart objects reminds me of a science fiction short story I read some years ago. I think it was called “A Captive Audience”, and it was possibly written by Ann Warren Griffith in 1953.
The story was that advertising had become embedded in tiny little sound generators, too small to locate and destroy, in all products. Breakfast was accompanied by the cereal boxes singing “Eat me!”, the sofa would bellow “I am soft and comfortable, why don’t you sit down?” and so on.
The key point was that you could not escape: Earplugs had been outlawed as an impediment to commerce and free speech. For some reason, given the current debate about DRM and the recording industry, this doesn’t seem so far out anymore….