Author Archive

Project 3 – Buy My Emotion

For my final project, my initial idea was to create a Twitter bot that would search an abstract feeling in Wikimedia Commons and post the first image that came up. The intent was to give an intangible feeling some kind of unrelated tangible picture.

Since I presented that idea, my project has changed a bit. I realized early on that I did not have the programming capabilities to achieve this, so I turned to If This Then That to aid me. That’s when I thought of using posts of things for sale on platforms like Craigslist and Ebay to outline these abstract feelings, making the posts even more abstract themselves.

At first, I used IFTTT to create a trigger on Craigslist to tweet a photo when there was a post that said “Sad/Angry/Happy” etc. The post URL and any indication that the photo came from Craigslist was erased and replaced with only a cryptic tweet saying “I feel ___” corresponding with the feeling that triggered it.

This proved to be difficult, as most of the posts on Craigslist that were triggering the tweets did not have photos. I decided to use Ebay instead since posts on Ebay always have photos and appear more often.

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As for the triggering words themselves, I used obvious words in some cases like “anxiety” but for other feelings, I searched specific objects. Some examples are “recorded video tapes” for nostalgia, “crystal ball” for feeling lost (as they are stereotypically used to look into the future), and “donate” for needing help.

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Some words like “found” were deactivated for a bit because they overtook the feed, as it was the most posted thing on Ebay. I want to continue experimenting with search terms and what the bot posts. The bot can be found here: https://twitter.com/buymyemotion

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TRM – Dani Llamas, Erica Vitucci, Ivana Lukic, Zach Britt

For our social prosthetic, we decided to create a wearable that displays Terms and Conditions using an LCD screen connected to an Arduino. The idea spawned from the abundance of these terms that we must view to join social media websites. We had two initial focuses:

 

  1. “Using the wearable display to show how crazy it is to expect us to read the entire terms and conditions before accepting.  Also show off how creepy/extensive the actual terms of some services are today.

 

  1. Using the wearable as a “futurist” concept.  This way the terms and conditions are part of social contract between two people in day to day interaction.  So in order to have a conversation or get to know a person you need to accept their terms and conditions.  Its like if you were required in real life to request someone to be your friend and they responded yes or no right there.  We could also play with breaching, were some people have odd requirements in their contracts, like you can’t say certain words to them or it restricts your body language.”

 

We were unsure at first if we should use real terms from social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter, or to create our own terms that could vary from person to person. We also considered jumbling existing terms to create a sort of composite. We ended up using the second idea, to make it seem like a more personalized experience.

 

For the wearable itself, we first thought of making a headband or a shirt patch with the screen attached. This evolved into an actual hat, with the inclusion of a hand type accessory to “accept” the terms. This turned from a wristband to a hand-band with conductive fabric sending a sensor to the arduino to turn off the screen.

 

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We then drafted the terms and conditions, using the Facebook terms as a reference. Here is an example of the terms we ended up with:

 

  1. Privacy and Safety
  • You are not allowed to disclose or sell any personal information about this user to any other persons or organizations.
  • You are not allowed to share any inflammatory, malicious, misleading or any offensive information with this user.
  • You are not allowed to use any methods of bullying or intimidation towards this user.
  • You are not allowed to raise your voice over 30 dB while speaking with this user, as they are easily frightened.
  • You are not allowed to touch this user in any way without their clear permission.

 

  1. Disputes
  • In the case of a dispute, you are not allowed to ignore this user or avoid confrontation.
  • You are not allowed to say anything inherently mean, hurtful or something that may make this person cry.
  • You are required to apologize first, even if this user was in the wrong.

 

We documented the wearable in action with a video that can be viewed here:

“Data Dada” Reading

In this week’s reading, we are treated to a short piece of science fiction dealing with the internet of things in what may be the not-so-distant future. The narrator complains that their fridge wont allow them to drink alcohol, because it believes they are pregnant. Then, they mentally go down the list of devices monitoring their actions and biology to figure out how the fridge possibly could assume that they are pregnant.

At one point, the narrator even starts to doubt themselves, wondering “Am I truly pregnant?” Some of these hypothetical machines include an iRing, a tracking toilet and, interestingly enough, “ComWarner” (referencing the Time Warner/Comcast merger).

Reading questions:

  • What do you think is the author’s attitude towards the possible internet of things? Do you agree with them?
  • Do you believe the internet of things has more pros or cons?
  • How comfortable would you be with being highly monitored in your own home?
  • How far off do you think this reality might be?

Google Diet

This week, we were supposed to refrain from all Google products, including such websites as Youtube and Gmail. At first, I was most frightened about not having access to Gmail. I have several accounts that get constant email. But the simplest solution to that was to  forward all of my emails to an Outlook account. This got to be a bit confusing at first, because I was unsure of which emails were directed to whichever address. On the other hand, it was nice to have all of my emails contained in one place.

 

The second task was the search engine. At first I used Duck Duck Go because of the claim that it does not track your searches. In the surveillance heavy world we live in today, that was a comforting claim. But after a while, it was harder to find the content that I really wanted. I ended up giving up security over convenience and using Bing for the rest of the week.

I found it harder to refrain from Google on my phone. My Gmail app was racking up email notifications and it was hard to ignore the little red number over the app. iPhones tend to be pre-loaded with the Google app, and it was hard to avoid it, especially since I was so used to searching random little things through the day. I ended up cheating during the first Friday, using Google Maps for directions to my doctor’s office in Chinatown. My fear of getting lost overtook me and I depended on the map.

This experiment made me realize how invested we are in Google, how it’s become the standard in many ways on the internet. I really had to make an effort to avoid it, possible due to the fact that I was already invested myself. Being opened up to how watched we are constantly was unsettling, and it is obvious how hard Google pushes to be part of our lives automatically. It is hard to give up convenience for the sake of being completely private.

 

 

IFTTT Recipe – SYNTHFINDR

For this week’s experiment, I interviewed my friend Dan about how he uses the internet and technology. He is a musician, so his interests include music and veganism. Here is a transcript of the interview below:

What websites do you use the most? Are they mostly social media sites?

-Yeah, they are mostly social media sites. Tumblr and then Facebook. Mostly Tumblr though, it’s probably the main reason I use the internet. Oh and Netflix as well.

 

What do you mostly use the internet for? What do you use technology for in general?

-I use the internet mostly for email, socializing, watching movies and TV, buying stuff, and doing homework. I use my phone basically to do what I would do on a normal computer.

 

What do you like and dislike about the social media outlets you frequent?

-I use Tumblr more because I like the community of Tumblr. I find cool things I wouldn’t really find elsewhere. I don’t like Facebook because of what people post. I mostly use it just to communicate with people or event planning and such. It’s faster than email and has more structure than texting because you can make event pages. But Tumblr is more for leisure, while a lot of time on Facebook makes me feel gross.

 

How do your interests affect how you use the internet and technology?

-Well, I’m interested in music and recording so I use the internet to look up how to do specific things. Like I’ll look up certain recording techniques or general research about music. I learned a lot about music production from looking it up online than from my old music school.

 

Are there any ways that you wish technology was more convenient for your everyday life?

-No, technology is convenient enough for me. I don’t know.

 

Is there any way that you may like to use the internet differently or just technology in general to suit your needs?

-I feel like I’m not super internet savvy. I’ll learn enough to do what I need to do, but I don’t really stay updated with the newest stuff. Like phone apps, I feel like I have a lot less apps than most people.

 

Because he is a musician who works mostly with synthesizers, I created an IFTTT recipe that posts to a tumblr blog called SYNTHFINDR every time a synth goes for sale on craigslist in NYC.

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I chose Tumblr as the channel it goes through because it is the social media outlet he frequents the most, and prefers to keep emails for more professional affairs. The link to the blog is here: http://synthfindr.tumblr.com/

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After tweaking the current recipe and adding a new one (same idea, simply just making link posts as well), the blog started to post successfully.

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Social Media Breach – Predictive Text Tweets

For my social media breach this week, I initially knew that I wanted to use Twitter as my medium. It seemed like the best candidate because of the fact that, unlike other forms of social media, it allows the least amount of content to be released at a time. Facebook and Tumblr arguably allow the most, images, long blocks of text, links, embedded videos, etc. Instagram allows picture and video sharing. But Twitter is mainly used only for short bursts of text, which is limiting in itself. This limiting factor seemed intriguing to me.

Something else that intrigued me was the interaction of bots with social media. The automation and lack of control over the posts is chilling and strange, considering we expect genuineness in most social facets. But the fact that we use the invention of the internet to socialize and still find computers and automation around us influenced my breach.

For my breach, I decided to start a twitter account and create tweets using Apple’s predictive text feature. The text based content that Twitter allows and automated content from Twitter bots were both inspirations for the account. It is not completely automated, of course. Part of my involvement in the breach is curation. Sometimes I allow the first word to be decided by the predictive text, but I also start it at times. I also curate what word is going to come next, as I am given three choices. The end product is sort of a collaboration between me and the technology; it gives me the content and I present it.

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Some of the results were poetic, while others were funny and strange. I had something to do with that, due to the fact that the word choices relied on me. But the choices that the iPhone gave me were also strange by themselves at times. I also experimented by only choosing the first or second options given to me, forming an abstract sentence only informed by it’s own doing. In this case, I am allowing the technology to speak completely, giving it a platform.

 

The project also reminded me of “Technorealism and the Accident of Art” from Rosa Menkman’s book The Glitch Moment(um). By transforming the use of a feature introduced to aid, art is created through accident and glitch. In forcing this process through another method, we are able to create art in this form.

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This can be considered a breach for several reasons. Twitter is a platform for people to share their thoughts in about 120 characters or less, shared unwittingly with automated robots that tweet content. This account is a bridge between content composed by technology and the content being curated by a real person. It is also a breach of communication, weaving together nonsensical phrases and sentences because it is what the technology assumes we are going to say. It is an attempt of technology trying to predict and know us better than we do ourselves.

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This account is an ongoing project. Follow at https://twitter.com/tweetpredictr

Reference:

Menkman, R.

The glitch moment(um)

In-text: (Menkman, 2011)

Bibliography: Menkman, R. (2011). The glitch moment(um). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.

Social Breach – New Identity

For my breaching experiment, I decided to make a Facebook profile of my roommate, Cassidy. I wanted to see how an unsolicited duplicate of someone’s person on the internet would affect our reactions outside the internet. This profile would offer as the catalyst for social interactions in person that I will discuss later.

I used some pictures they took on my computer when they didn’t have one of their own (including the profile picture). They were at work, so I figured this would be the best time to implement this experiment.

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First, after adding basic information like birthday and school, I started to add several of our closest friends. A few of them added the profile without any problems, possibly because of the status I made saying that they had remade the profile, which is a common occurrence among our friends. With the accessibility of starting new on social media, it seemed to come without surprise.

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After about 10 minutes or so of editing and curating, there started to be some push back. One of our closest friends named Rachel, posted on the profile’s wall, simply with an angry emoticon face. Another friend of ours asked who it really was. I answered as best I could, reiterating that I was indeed my roommate.

About 30 minutes into it, it seemed the charade was up once my actual roommate friended the profile and started commenting on the profile picture I had uploaded. Finally, my roommate returned from work, telling me how confused they were and slightly upset. The main reason was the fact that the profile had feminine pronouns, and my roommate identifies as gender neutral. This was a small detail I overlooked that I was trying to change on my computer.

This was possibly the main reason that they found out, as they glimpsed at my screen. “I thought so!” They exclaimed, also telling me that a couple of our friends messaged them on Facebook in confusion. The charade was up very shortly, due to how quickly we were able to communicate among our friends, and the fact that we live together.
I asked if they wanted me to delete it and Cassidy simply responded by saying “Continue using cute pictures of me. If you use shitty pictures, I’m reporting you.” It seemed that they thought it was now funny and urged me to keep using it as them, no longer creeped out or scared by it. The profile sat for a bit before the charade started to seep into the world beyond the internet.

While having dinner with friends, the profile had spread quite a bit and started to become a source of discussion among us. Why would someone want to adopt the identity of my roommate? But more importantly, who was doing this? When fingers started to be pointed, my roommate also acted like they didn’t know. That surprised me initially and I denied any involvement.

This lead to our friends turning on each other and accusing each other of making this fake profile for no real reason beyond some real joke. They warned that they would find out who it really was, pointing fingers at others still. It was interesting to see our friends start to question each other and how this small occurrence on one social realm, changed their reactions and perceptions in a different one.