Monthly Archives: May 2010

Graffyard

Berlin graffiti artist Sweza has created an interesting take on street art. Since graffiti frequently gets buffed, Sweza has started taking photos of the art before they get removed. Once they are removed, he places a QR code at that location. Using his Graffyard iPhone app, users can retrieve an image of the previous graffiti on their phones. It would be interesting if multiple images are stored for the same location, if one could use Graffyard to travel back in time and see the previous graffiti in that location. Similar to the Eric Pakurar’s Chemical Warfare Project.

Shared Artifacts

Schuresko one time mentioned using shared artifacts for collaboration and social network interaction. Instead of simply just clicking buttons in lists, users would manipulate representations of the activities/messages more like how one drags icons around on a desktop. He mentioned OLPC’s Sugar interface, and how other OLPC users show up as icons on the home screen, complete with icons indicating what activity they are currently engaged in. Since many of the OLPC applications are collaborative, clicking on a user’s icon will crate a shared session with him/her. Also, when users are collaborating, their icons appear huddled around the same activity icon.

I hadn’t seen anything like that interface before, especially deployed outside of a lab. I thought about that recently when trying to simply share a folder on my computer with Ming’s was an exercise in frustration. (Either we couldn’t log in to each other’s machines, or the network link would collapse immediately after beginning the transfer.)

Later, I saw an ad for Microsoft’s Kin phone. It interface (shown above, you have to click around on their link unfriendly site to find the video yourself) seems pretty novel. The user is initially presented with a graphical life stream. From this, they can drag items down to the area immediately below the stream (the “Kin Spot”) to share them with people in their address book. Again, destinations are selected from a graphical stream and dragged to the spot. Tapping the spot allows the final message is edited and then sent.

It would be interesting to create an interface like this for Diaspora, if that ever gets off the ground.

Death in the Internet Age

While going through my RSS feeds, I noticed that the last update from Graffiti Research Lab was memorial to the death of one of their members, Florian Hufsky.

I have no idea who he was. What is interesting though, is that the memorial linked to eight of his websites/accounts. He died on 12/16/2009, and his last tweet was on 12/02/2009 at 1:11pm. He still has 255 followers. Mostly I suspect because unfollowing an orphaned account is more costly than just letting it be. Although, I’m sure some might keep following it out of sentimental reasons.

That got me thinking about the detritus of life. It’s depressing to think that most of our “important” possessions are going to end up in the dump, simply because our survivors already have their own “important” possessions. But now we’re living significant parts of our lives online. Gone are the days letters, replaced by emails, forum posts, and social networks. (At least Twitter is safe… sort of.) Spread out across countless Internet sites and abandoned password protected accounts, the detritus is left. Even in life this stuff builds up. An abandoned Friendster account here. An Orkut account that you can’t log in to because of a database change there. A rarely used Hotmail account over there.

NPR’s All Things Considered recently aired a story about a dead Fodor’s Online user, Robespierre. Once a very active and respected contributor, he mysteriously disappeared from the forums, until someone confirmed the suspicions, he was dead. Now his posts live on in a database somewhere, occasionally showing up in searches.

Bruce Sterling got spam advertising MentoMori, a service that allows you to post instructions on how to deactivate your online presence. Why you would give all your account information to an unknown third party, I don’t know. If you really want something like that. Just put the information in a safe deposit box, and and leave the key with an attorney. (Of course, something like the old Man Show skit, where your death alerts “cleaners” to make your life look less embarrassing (e.g. replacing your porn collection with the Bible), might be more useful.)

I really doubt that anyone would use a service like MentoMori, but maybe something like this should exist. At least in an attempt to save some of our papers for our descendants dig through and occasionally laugh at. Instead, it will all be lost, and our own personal Digital Dark Age will begin.

Users and Choice

People will often want more information than they can actually process. Having more information makes people feel that they have more choices. Having more choices makes people feel in control. Feeling in control makes people feel they will survive better.

The Psychologist’s View of UX Design by Susan Weinschenk

versus

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

Barry Schwartz, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less”, 2004, Chapter 5

via Unknown 8 Bit