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The internet has kept this data engineer’s house plants alive for three years now.
Tyler Wood, who runs the website takecareofmyplant.com, engineered a way for redditors to decide when his plants get watered. He came up with the idea after coming across a Twitch stream where the channel’s chat room controlled a game of Pokemon by making comments.
“I wondered if this same collective, chaotic approach could keep an actual organism alive,” Wood told Vice. “I think a plant is the only organism I could morally and ethically allow the internet to take care of.”
After connecting a Raspberry Pi computer to the water pump for one of his plants, Wood launched the r/takecareofmyplant subreddit to see if the internet would be willing to take over the mundane task.
Wood then set up a voting mechanism on the subreddit that would let the followers, who collectively named his Zebra Plant “Jeff,” decide whether or not Jeff would be watered. Users could even visit Wood’s website to watch a livestream of Jeff in action.
Jeff survived for over two years before eventually dying due to Wood moving homes. Another Zebra Plant, know simply as Freyja, has since taken Jeff’s place.
Wood has made it a point to take a hands-off approach to his internet-run plant. If internet trolls decide to flood the subreddit with votes to keep his plant from being watered, so be it. But it seems that passionate followers are doing their best to keep his plants alive and well.
“This kind of random project has led to some sort of real connection,” Wood added. “It just kind of flies in the face of a lot of the perceptions of the internet as miscreants and ne’er-do-wells.”
As the world becomes increasingly connected, projects like Wood’s have become more and more common. Just last year, the Daily Dot interviewed a San Francisco man who let the internet control several of his robots.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.