Desk Toys for the Broadbanded

Oddly, it wasn't until I started playing with Newton's Penguins that I was able to begin to understand, and appreciate, the gift people like Ze Frank have given us.

I backtrack.

Newton's Penguins is a delightfully animated and Penguinified version of a classic executive desk toy known as "Newton's Cradle." It works so well, and is so faithful to the Newtonian implications of it all, that playing with it is almost as calming as playing with the, if you'll forgive the expression, "real" thing.

The more I played with Newton's Penguins, the more conscious I became of a bunch of other little, interactive playthings that I've been finding on the web - not games, not puzzles, not art pieces, but little virtual, desk toys.

From doodling toys like the kind Ze Frank makes to Dave Bessler's wonderful Pipe Cleaner Dancer, Internet artists are producing an increasingly innovative, artful and delightful collection of Virtual Desk Toys - each of which is yet another invitation to fun.

Speaking of which, the graphic for this story was produced with the aid of a tool that Ze Frank, who is as much a social as a virtual player, created as part of his "Letter Project."

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