The new IKEA commercial, by Spike Jonze, has been getting lots of great buzz. It's a fine demonstration of a new aspect of the Media Equation, which originally argued that people treat speaking machines (like computers) as if they were people. We're programmed to assume that, if something speaks or writes and asserts identity, then it probably is a person. As a result, people -- even people who know better -- tend to do be polite when addressing a computer, or will tend to be less critical of a program when speaking in its presence.

You might think the music and the weather are the key to the ad, but note the camera angles; much of the film is shot from the lamp's point of view. If a machine has a point of view, we assume it has feelings.