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redleaf_funware_proposal

Now naked on pluto

http://nimk.nl/eng/artist-in-residence-call-for-proposals

Braindump

Issues

  • what is wrong with fb?:
    • social organization defined by oversimplified algorithms
    • no anonymous use (you break the EULA if you give false information)
    • applications are used to harvest data, panem et circenses
    • the GUI to friendship is biased (ignore? → ignore a database request or ignore a human being?) → force people to collect friends
    • the privacy settings is a fail/fail case, fail 1: the system is geared towards enabling the sharing of information as much as possible, including via authorized third party app, fail 2: you do not protect your privacy, eerything i still owned and tracked by fb, in fact you can only hide parts of your activity t other users.
    • ppl have no clue how it works, they are lured into a fake freedom of speech ending up vomiting on fb and showing their tits and balls, not realizing they are seriously damaging their real social and professional network.

Rough game description

  • you are isolated at 1st
  • you carry your friends with you (inventory/IM)
  • friends are the only items with which you interact at first
  • you don't know if you're friends are real or bots
  • every location is the same and connected to others
  • you can create objects (not sure about this one but I like the idea of cornucopia and abandonned rooms filled with junk)
  • you are in a database/loop/cube-ish environment (trying to draw a map of the world would be like trying to map some n-dimensional building) and you can't get out. The only thing you can do is add more stuff
  • there is “positive” propaganda a bit everywhere (from fortune cookies to ranting bots)
  • The stuff you produced is used by weird entities that change the environment and its features
  • it's multiplayer, you can meet and chat in rooms
  • at some point you can invent encryption? :)

Ideas for Settings

Thinking old times:

  • Ancient greeks, sunshine, philosophising, triangles, searching for elusive truths?
  • Hunter gather, we go back to a prehistoric, preagricultural age - you have to hunt for something to survive - your data?

Very small:

  • Ants, digging and searching, collecting, taking back to your nest.
  • Smaller maybe, Bacterial game, you are an Amoeba… you are part of some greater whole (the fb database) that you can't really percieve, but you need to find out about. Data converted into DNA that makes you who you are but is mysterious.
  • Pondlife?

Other:

  • Amnesia: You wake up with no memory of who you are (naked on a beach near Ipswich, or maybe on a spaceship orbiting Saturn) - you need to find out who your friends are, where your pictures have gone. Collect all your information which has become scattered. Part of this is by working out which characters are real and which are bots.
  • Recursive: “You are sitting at your computer looking at FaceBook. What would you like to do?”
  • You don't know if you're a bot, when you do not play, your profile is playing on its own.

how can we express that in a game?

  • Text adventure games could represent a nice way to approach some more challenging subjects in a way which is quick to implement and prototype, could provide an interestingly jarring clash with expectations of social gaming. If we need to create a story, reading some Kaczynski could be inspiring to set the mood :)
  • Another idea for the AiR is just to pitch some critical/creative use of people's information on facebook. Maybe take it all out of context, or make a really scary sounding app that doesn't actually read any information.
  • Combination of the 2 above: text based, viral game that shows the user what application developers/3rd parties have access to (mirror mirror on the wall), or one that creates perfect virtual friends (like tamagotchi meets dating site= datagotchi ;). Marloes was wondering if the privacy settings are ignored by game app. If yes then this is a great sniffer which data could be fed into a small local simulation or datavis
  • Farmville plays on social obligations and actually all the stuff that makes ppl join facebook in the first place (as mentioned in http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/cultivated-play-farmville), it would be interesting to play with this (horrible) idea of “being someone elses crop”.
  • Players can be banned from game if they loose (loose needs to be defined), it's possible to come back by making a donation to the EFF or something similar.
  • your friends are spoofed by bots (Eliza effect is always fun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA_effect), the game could also be you being stalked by bots if the API allows the control of profiles.
  • If everything is text based but involves many-to-many connections between players and bots/game-engine it could be nice to visualize the network in pseudo-RT (fluxus?) would be nice as an install to show the scale and current activities of the game
  • bring anonymity back in communication, if the game is a multiplayer text based adventure you do not know who is who and who is human/bot.
  • a player needs to collect the more data as possible on everyone and can sacrifice his friends for extra life, artefacts, bonuses
  • implement a blowfish app in fb or as firefox plugin to allow encrypted communications
  • we need to find a way to make the game enjoyable but increasingly sick or disturbing to play?
  • need for psychological hooks to trick the gamer
  • need for having the game overlapping with reality

Outline of the concept underlying the work

(200 words max)

Random points:

  • Reveal underlying apparatus and risks of centralized and proprietary data-mining driven social software
  • Reverse engineer the black box by the mean of gaming
  • Just put some art in these spaces - something reflective, thoughtful rather than purely functional. I think this could be the most shocking thing.
  • Explore the limits of the polices and API's - not in a controversial unthinking, get the headlines manner, but in a curious, scientific, well mannered approach. Document this like it's cutting edge research.
  • Transparency and openness - need to be emphasised at all times, the working of the game needs to be transparent, and also our working methods (free software, publish documentation, process visible).
  • Reverse turing test - people pretending to be bots as game mechanic

General outline of the scope of the final work

(200 words max – please include visual sketches).

Visual sketches for a txt based game, wich UI is fb would be pointless… but could be faked I supposed, as in a mock-up.

Random points:

  • Spread positive ideas using mass media channel VS remain in secure niche of specialist and already convinced communities
  • Viral and Spreadable ideas are not for marketing but powerful vector to share knowledge and ideas
  • Use of the data you own (and your friends) as a world in which you live/environment/valuable goods - underline the importance of it (and the quantity)

Outline of the research and development plan

(250 words max)

  • Platform research
    1. Facebook/other API (maybe twitter too?)
    2. Research into policies and rules that encode these APIs - maybe good as inspiration in themselves.
  • Developing/researching frameworks needed
    1. What languages/tools exist? What are the choices?
    2. Client with our own server or just need host's server?
    3. If own server, lots of issues to deal with privacy, scalability etc.
    4. Making our own platform/toolkit - targeted at reuse by other artists/projects.
  • Visualisation of the information gathered
    1. Transparent, clear view on what is accessible/what we are using - how do we communicate this well?
    2. Both in the game
    3. And externally via other methods
    4. How to we make it clear that people own this, that it's valuable
  • Bots
    1. Researching AI element
    2. Pretending to be people or other way around
  • Fitting this into a game world
    1. Researching text games
    2. Building/reusing a text based game engine
    3. Playtesting
    4. Lots of iterations
    5. Making the feedback loop as quick as possible, easy to add new content, try ideas, change things.

Motivation for why you would like to work in the context of this particular residency as well as an overview of your interest in the technologies mentioned above

(250 words max)

Main reasons we could give: FIXME

  1. Good format to share a residency between 3 locations, to give the artist a change to work on a project longer and in different contexts (we've done that before on our own initiative and it works really well) - distributed collaboration, networked production approach + using the 3 hosts as real life meeting points.
  2. We have good experiences with 2 out of the 3 locations and are happy to work with the teams involved, and are interested in the 3rd (BALTAN, unless you worked with them, Dave? - nope)
  3. The project we propose fits really well in the funware exhib. (humour and affect in computing, with threads such as gaming, hacker/virus approaches and participatory online applications).

Modes of online communication have moved from peer to peer systems such as email and IM to centralized and corporate platforms so fast, little thought has gone into the long term consequences of this move. Users share information under dubious and ever changing terms they do not control. Social games and applications on such platforms make the situation even less transparent. They have access to a lot of user information, and even though they are not allowed to store this information, the games are hosted on 3rd party servers, and there is no way platforms such as Facebook can check if those rules are obeyed.

Things we can do as part of residency:

  • Why the data is valuable, how it's used, background of companies involved.
  • What the policies mean as a developer.
  • Learning technically how to use online content for artistic means.
  • About the framework we are using, hands on experiments.
  • Play testing our game, giving feedback, changing features, experimenting.

Indication of your planning divided between the three labs

i.e. what would you like to develop where

The residency period is 6 months, there are 3 locations. We need to list our main tasks, and see where they could be developed (not for 2 months on location of course, none of us has time to travel more than 1 or 2 weeks at a time). Depending on eventual plan, but generally speaking → FIXME add remove etc!

  • research on content
  • development of platform/base structure
  • development of content/script/story
  • implementation of features/story/script
  • finalisation of application
  • testing & fixing
  • documentation of project, process, etc.

I think the most technical parts should be developed “at” piksel, finalizing (testing, fixing and documenting results) could be done “at” BALTAN, content development/research and process documentation could be done “at” nimk??? With “at” I mean mostly remotely but with a visit of one of us related to that part of the project, to have some exchange and feedback from the 3 locations. FIXME seems practical and logical to me, but perhaps it is not ;)

We could pitch that we work in a distributed fashion (which is true) with sprints, in that case 3 sprints of a week long each, one in each location?

Please send your submission to call@nimk.nl Deadline for submission is Friday 23 April 2010.

  • Marloes: sent
  • Dave: sent
  • Aymeric: no

Project Titles

Please vote/comment/add more :)

  • Greyhouse (green house, glasshouse, white|grey|black box)
  • Collectors (reference to database's collections + behaving
  • End-Userland (well .. end-user limitations + userland applications)
  • Inventory (database ref + game player's inventory)
  • Grand Hotel (it's a closed space with privacy regulated by the host + ref to Hilbert's paradox which fits to database/cubish idea + give a certain mistery)

I like “naked on pluto” - “You are 4.3 billion kilometers away from the nearest human. You have no clothes.”, good for a code name anyway. Also a name which is a little more confrontational, maybe for the general project - “Faceless” ?

redleaf_funware_proposal.txt · Last modified: 2010/05/06 07:31 by davegriffiths