The use of self-tracking apps and devices is now so widespread that it is easy to overlook how much our thinking about ‘personal analytics’ is rooted in social web services. Urbana-Champaign-based media artist Benjamin Grosser’s most recent project, Facebook Demetricator, is a multi-browser plugin that recontextualizes Facebook’s interface by stripping out all mentions of quantity. Once ‘demetricated’ the number of likes, friends, comments, etc. are excised, resulting in a more neutral browsing experience where a user’s interactions are not influenced with the knowledge of how much engagement particular bits of content have received.
Several weeks ago, Grosser engaged in an extended interview about this work with Matthew Fuller this conversation reveals considerable insight about the thinking behind the project. Specifically, Grosser’s comments about what data is and isn’t shown to Facebook users are fascinating:
So what isn’t shown? Well, I’m not told how many things I like per hour, or how many ads I click per day, or how effective the ‘People You May Know’ box is in getting me to add more friends to my network. These types of analytics are certainly a significant element within the system, guiding personalization algorithms, informing ad selection choices, etc. But would showing these types of metrics to the user make them more or less likely to participate? If the answer is less then the metric is hidden.
While I imagine Nicholas and Felton and the Facebook product design team furrowing their brows at the prospect of an numberless interface, Grosser’s plugin highlights how quantity drives and inflects interactions. At this point, perhaps the only way to understand how we habitually read web services as ‘social scoreboards’ is to hide the data that we expect to be in plain site.
More information can be found on the Project page – those that install the plugin should note that Grosser is looking for feedback about how it alters browsing habits.
- Eyebrowse [WebApp] Eyebrowse is an add-on for firefox and a webapp brought to you by MIT CSAIL that lets you easily record, visualize, and share your trails through the web in real-time. Tell eyebrowse what sites to track, browse away and compare. Eeyebrowse also lets you find out what's hot, who's reading what, and how you surfing changes over time. Currently, most web browsing data is collected by search engine companies (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Alexa), which is hardly available for public domain research. Eyebrowse seeks to fill this gap by providing an open and public repository of "web trails". By making this data openly available, the project hopes to support the creation of useful public services that report major trends on the web, services that support personalization through collaborative filtering, and other as-yet unimagined services that require a mass of data about the world's interaction with the web. (via infosthetics) Check out the eyebrowse pulse and some real live profiles. Unfortunately, I am a Safari user although I do have my bookmarks all synced up thanks to xmarks I rarely use Firefox. Nevertheless, you can also look up any site and see who visits, when they visit, where they come from and where they click on. It should also give you an insight in what information google may hold on you […]
- Best Friends – Casting in wax 451 connections on Facebook [Objects] Is post social media friendship an emotional investment of diminishing returns? It really depends who you ask. Midwest-based designer Colin Pinegar's recent BFA project Best Friends definitely calls the authenticity of ubiquitous connectivity into question, or at least adds some nuance to qualifying these relationships. Pinegar created a 'scorecard' for his Facebook friends that awarded each online connection 1-25 points based off a range of criteria (do I know this person's phone number? can I recognize this person by their name alone? etc.) These scores were plotted on a colour spectrum representing the 'intensity' of friendship and wax busts were crafted for each of Pinegar's 451 connections and arranged by value. The resulting array offers not only a bar graph plotting the prevalence of weak ties versus more meaningful bonds, but a physical representation of (and personal response to) social data culled from the web. Colin's 'friend plot' was accompanied by a series of concise information graphics and CAN was curious as to how this sidebar material related to the arrangement of wax busts. Colin provided the following response via email: "The printouts were supplemental infographics showing data from my 'friend audit' that I found interesting, e.g. when I met my friends, how many busts were in each row, as well as the data I found most alarming: how many of my "friends" I had never met (1%), how many 'friends' I didn't recognize by name alone (14%), 'friends' with an unknown (to me) location (24%), and 'friends' that I hadn't even seen from a distance in the year prior to my project (55%). There was also a short description and some FAQ's about the project and a small poster showing how the meaning of the word 'friend' has changed." When asked to describe the reasoning behind articulating his quantified friendship analysis as physical artifacts, Colin offered the following thoughts on post-digital production: "Like a Facebook 'friendship,' most graphic design relies too heavily on the computer—probably for the same reasons: it is quicker, easier, and what most people expect. Since this project was all about the importance of physicality in relationships, it seemed appropriate to avoid the computer and make something with my hands, and I think the outcome provided more impact than reading a number or seeing a graph on a poster. I also wanted to make something for my friends as an act of love and gratitude for supporting me and coming to see the exhibit (each friend was given the bust that represented him or her at the closing reception)." Best Friends clearly capitalizes on a pervasive social vertigo that has become all too familiar. Colin denies that the piece is anti-Facebook—or a polemic against any social network for that matter—but is concerned that the social web is "the communication equivalent of fast food". While Colin may be wary of the standardization of mediated relationships, he certainly has been savvy in reappropriating this logic to claim ownership of his own social data. Check out Colin's project documentation for additional info and images. via The New […]
- The Poking Machine by Jasper van Loenen & Bartholomäus Traubeck Created by Jasper van Loenen and Bartholomäus Traubeck, The Poking Machine is a wearable device that pokes you physically whenever you are poked on Facebook, no matter where you are. Online social networks are platforms for communication, enabling us to connect anywhere we go. However, they still lack the mediation of physical communication. Facebook tries to improve this by enabling its users to ‘poke’ each other, which basically only sends another written message to the person you poke, without conveying the original intent of the poking gesture. The Poking machine converts the message into an actual physical poke, extending the reach of this haptic gesture indefinitely. This way users can connect not only virtually but also physically. The set-up consists of a custom built circuit (ATtiny, servo, battery, and bluetooth module) that connects to an Android phone, letting it keep track of incoming pokes. The circuit is housed in a laser-cut box you can wear on your arm. Made using Processing for Android and Arduino for ATtiny. Project […]
- Yung Jake gets played out because you e.m-bed.de/d In his mile-a-minute guest spot on Rob Sonic's most recent album Sabotage Gigante, Los Angeles-based Busdriver fires off a verbal salvo about powder burns on a disk drive and generating buzz across the blogosphere. While this kind of technobabble isn't exactly the purview of most non-nerdcore MCs, broader discussions about the propagation of fame and channels of distribution have always been front and centre in hip hop. Yung Jake is an MC, CalArts student and a web developer with some serious chops who recently launched e.m-bed.de/d, a meditation on "the time after a song is released", charting a track's humble origins from a bedroom studio upload to YouTube through to 'winning the internet' as it virally spreads across blogs and social web services. Articulated in a visual language similar to Chris Milk's many-windowed browser-based video for The Wilderness Downtown, Yung Jake's self-reflexive lyrics and visual design map out a mosaic of influence that chart the hypothetical trajectory of his URL as it is retweeted by Justin Bieber, shared on Facebook and tumblr, blogged on sites like Rhizome and Pitchfork—even seeded on The Pirate Bay—as it racks up hundreds of thousands of views. In writing the project up for The Creators Project, Dylan Schenker described e.m-bed.de/d as "an anthem for virality", and while this observation is on-point, the screencast also functions as a deadpan critique of overexposure and the undiscerning nature of audiences and 'tastemakers' alike – the video essentially lays bare the mechanics of the hype cycle, and the truth isn't pretty. E.m-bed.de/d is full of wordplay and visual puns, one of the cleverest moments occurs when Yung Jake attracts a "banner bitch" from an adjacent ad into his video. While a total cliché, the scene simultaneously thumbs its nose at rap video tropes and winks at the audience, acknowledging the intertextual nature of the screencast and the network of platforms woven therein. Yung Jake's blasé demeanour is worth dwelling on, as on one hand he panders (chorus: "I'm trying to get embedded, I'm trying to get played out") and at the same time he aspires to play grandmaster and work the media landscape as if it were a chessboard – this is truly a tension we are all familiar with. There is a great line in Das Racist's "Sit Down Man", where Kool A.D. talks about how his father keeps tabs on his activities through a Google Alert. With e.m-bed.de/d, Yung Jake moves far beyond pedestrian engagements with the web and sketches out a weird deterministic universe where attention received is synonymous with quality and the delineation of network topology is an end, in and of itself. E.m-bed.de/d Bonus Points: Poke through the line-by-line lyric annotations on Rap Genius See also: Yung […]
- Considering Virtuality: Theorizing the Web 2013 A strangeness abounds when people are asked to theorize and elucidate something so untethered and rhizomatic as the Internet. At its basic structure, networks connect us to the images, data and knowledge we draw upon every day. Yet what is at the heart of these connections and what separates or integrates our In Real Life (IRL) and digital […]
- Daytum [iPhone, WebApp] Created by Nicholas Feltron and Ryan Case, Daytum for iPhone is complementary application for Daytum web app to track your daily activities. iPhone app allows you to add, edit and view entries to help collect and communicate the most important stats in your world. Daytum was originally conceived by Ryan Case and Nicholas Felton as an elegant and intuitive tool for counting and communicating personal statistics, inspired by Nicholas Felton's "Annual Reports" which he has been making since 2005. The iPhone app adopts the beautiful and familiar cyan and grey palette offering all the features you'd expect for inputting and tracking data on the go. Within the app, the entries page features an entry field and a list of recent entries. Tapping an item name or entry amount will link to their detail views. By swiping across an entry, you can quickly choose to re-add that item and amount at the current time, or choose to edit or delete the entry. The main item and category views are scrollable lists. Tap the button at the top of the page to add a new item or category. Click on an item or category to visit its detailed view, or swipe to quickly reveal edit and delete options. Not only can you add data quickly but also the app allows you to visualise the same data in beautiful graphs. Selecting an item or category from the list view loads the graph view. Dragging the handles below the graph allows for the default 2 week range to be adjusted. Drag over the graph to see the entry total for a specific day. In addition there is favourites view, a place to keep frequently referenced graphs. Save an item or category here by pressing the star icon on a graph. When it's blue, the graph has been saved to your favourites. As it can be expected, Nicholas and Ryan have done a wonderful job with the app. Although utilising in a lot of instances standard UIKit elements, there are tweeks and quirky elements that give the app unique feel. Some may miss the minimal feel of the web app, myself included, but the iPhone app seem to make the best of the two worlds. UI is light, fast and functional. Tracking your data requires discipline and persistence. My only concern with tools such as this has always been that they required 100% commitment which Nicholas is known for (see video below). I would love to see features added to the web app which allows you to pull activities from other sources such as RSS or Flickr, something that Momento does. The actual how this data can be filtered may be related to keywords or hashtags but never the less it would be great way to collect, analyse and reflect upon your activities. For the time being, Daytum relies much on your persistance to be able to reach a point and enought data is collected. With the knowledge that API is on it's way we can rest assured that most of the things I just mentioned are on the way. iPhone app is just the first step in that direction, using oAuth and undocumented and currently private API. To summarise, Daytum is a fantastic way to collect and track important stats. iPhone app is a wonderfully made and designed iPhone app to complement Daytum service. Considering it's free, including the web service which is also free, limited to 1000 entries giving you enough reason to try it. Should you feel this is something you'd like to continue using, a tiny fee of $4 a month should be no deterrent whatsoever. Platform: iPhone Version: 1.0 Cost: Free Developer: Daytum See also your.flowingdata […]
Posted on: 22/10/2012
- Interaction Designer at Carlo Ratti Associati
- Creative Technologist at Deeplocal
- HTML / CSS Developer at Resn
- Climate Service Data Visualiser at FutureEverything
- Creative Technologist at Rewind FX
- Coder to collaborate with Agnes Chavez
- Data Scientist at Seed Scientific
- Data Engineer at Seed Scientific
- Design Technologist at Seed Scientific
- Creative Technologist, The ZOO at Google
- Web Designer and Developer at the School of Visual Arts