What is the name and author of a short story where everyone is using always-on wearable computers, e.g. to help interaction with other people, like hints of what to say during conversation.

The protagonist's five minutes of fame is when he asks about being able to turn off one's own personal wearable computer. That gets him the girl, in the end.

Part of this wearable computer are goggles for visual output; when the computer is turned off they get fogged (although fogging can also be forced without turning the computer off).

I think the name of the short story was something along the lines of "Norman's Personal", or something like that but I don't remember the proper title.

  • Argh. I've read this. I think it was an older story by a hard SF author... Sep 21, 2011 at 6:29
  • Reminds me strongly of an Asimov short story, though I haven't found it yet.
    – Bevan
    Feb 26, 2012 at 3:29
  • What a ridiculous premise. Mar 27, 2013 at 15:06
  • I'm confused... what does "gets him the girl" mean?
    – Omegacron
    Mar 17, 2015 at 19:01

5 Answers 5


It sounds like "Norbert and the System", by Timons Esaias.

From a review:

What if we are all plugged into our personal computer all of the time and it helps or perhaps controls us in everything? But then what what if we wanted to have an off switch installed? A great story. One of the best in the book! 8/10


Sounds a lot like Personal Jesus by Paul Di Filippo.

People each have a device known as a godPod, which allows communication with an omniscient force which most people attribute to God. As in your description the voice guides people in their daily lives, and the protagonist, having concerns about his godPod, is guided into asking out a girl working at the local cafe, in order to distract him from the idea of switching off his godPod.

  • No, that is certainly not it. First, I think the name of short story was "Norman's Personal" or something like that though I don't remember author. Second, no-one in said short story attributes voice of wearable computer as God / omniscient force. And last the short story I am asking about was written before first iPod. It is possible that "Norman's Personal" inspired "Personal Jesus" May 28, 2012 at 8:22

Part of it reminds me of Devil on my back also sound like "Mythological Beast" by Stephen R. Donaldson


Part of your description reminds me "Riding the torch" by Norman Spinrad, but they don´t use wearable computers, they have some kind of online help in their heads, trough implants.


Personal Jesus by Jennifer Pelland. I found it in the anthology the page is based on just today.

Here's a summary:

"Personal Jesus" is an electronic watchdog that everyone must wear, advising proper religious behavior and applying electrical shocks when wearers misbehave. A vignette written as a promotional pamphlet.

  • 3
    Hiya! We generally discourage answers that are a link and not much else. It would be helpful if you could describe why you think this story is a good match for they question. May 20, 2019 at 23:33

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