Digital graffiti spaces
A really interesting piece in the Boston Globe recently about how two companies are bringing the world of virtual interactions into spaces where people can interact face to face. As we all know, kids and young adults today cut their teeth with online social networks, creating friendships and establishing their digital (and real life) identity. Instant messaging, twittering and telling the whole world who you are and what you’re about (via YouTube, MySpace etc) is the norm. It’s the age of the micro-celebrity – you get your 15 mins of fame, which hopefully might spin out to 30 mins or more.
Two Boston companies are using flat-screen digital graffiti boards to display text messages, bringing the virtual into the real world. Using a mobile or cell, people can send messages or pictures to video screens in pubs, clubs and other areas where people socialise. User-generated local content is displayed (author’s phone number is not disclosed) and content can be tailored to the audience.
People can use the screens to display Happy Birthday messages or vote for their favourite bartender or drink. Known as a wiffiti application, the technology could ultimately be linked to social communities. And so you can find out whether your friends are also gathered at the same busy Friday night club or where your fav music is playing. I can only imagine the possibilities of use in schools or for advertising and a screen behind a politician who’s delivering the latest campaign speech might light up with text messages of “lies, damn lies”!
I do have visions though (probably not warranted) of people sitting in clubs and bars staring at lit up mobile phone screens, then lifting their collective heads momentarily to see messages flash up on the big screen – would anyone talk to each other?! And of course a mobile phone number is a unique identifier, so part of me wonders “can you be tracked”?
The wiffiti model is below (Locamoda is one of the two companies pioneering the technology):
One’s life is now on and off the screen. Increasingly, we are socially connected through the conduits of BlackBerries, online social communities and neighbourhoods we belong to and the broader internet. But it seems to me we are somewhere in between, in transition. We are either off the internet or turn the mobile off – and therefore existing in the physical world; or we are on the internet, on Skype, participating in some social network – and therefore occupying another space. We participate in two separate worlds, building identities in both. Maybe wiffiti applications will help to bridge the two worlds.
Image source: Digital Natives