Three Things

I’m in the middle of writing an essay that I should have finished months ago, so updates on this site are going to be rare for a while. In the interim, here’s three things that have caught my eye lately:

02 have a service enabling people to set up their own text services over SMS. You can create a POD online with info, announcement or voting functionality, and then invite people to join. It seems to have been running for a while, as one of the listed pods is about who will win last summer’s Big Brother. Very interesting service, and amusing to see the pods already created – jokes, gossip and organising beer nights seem to the be the most popular uses, but its impossible to tell if these have been set up by users or planted by 02. It would be very handy if you were organising a football club or other regular social gathering, though. Swiss ‘e-fashion’ company SKIM used to provide a similar service, and I used their version for the first SMS project I curated in 2000. Blimey – I’ve just been to the SKIM site, and was amazed to find they still exist, although they seem to be less interested in clothes and more in networking/communications.

4Luv is a project by Siobhan Hapaska and Fiddian Warman (from SODA). Taking a cue from lovers carving their names in trees, 4Luv consists of SMS pagers built into boxes and mounted on trees in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. You can text messages to the trees and see them displayed there, although the screen looks a bit small in the photo. Its a bit like the public caches idea that I wrote about a while ago, but much better realised for basing itself on an already existing vernacular writing (or carving) activity. No info about when the work was installed, or if its currently working, though. Anybody see the work in action?

Finally, Marcos Weskamp has just launched Social Circles, a flash app that maps in real time the activity on a number of mailing lists, including Rhizome and Nettime. He says it’s an attempt to help new members of the list identify the social factors – who posts the most, and who gets the most responses to the posts they send to the list. It seems to be pretty early stages at the moment, as some of the visualisations are pretty simple for a well established and complex list like Nettime.

A nice experiment, though, which will no doubt get hijacked by the those people who periodically infest lists like Rhizome as some kind of email performance art-work, spamming loads of rubbish in the name of art. I’m not on most of these lists these days, but it was interesting to look at the social circles diagrams and recognise some names that were active when I was on the lists a few years ago. I also checked the web archives of the EMPYRE list recently, as they are having a very interesting discussion with Noah Wardrup-Fruin and Nick Montfort about historicizing new media art. There were a number of familiar names from Rhizome and other media art lists, like Brett Staulbaum, Patrick Lichty and Simon Biggs. I wonder where they find the time to participate in so many communities…

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