As I’ve previously discussed, my current plan is to base my interactive Processing project around drawing to a display by using physical motions and brightness tracking to manipulate the digital image.  Since the last post on the subject, I have developed this concept further and tried to incorporate a relevant media concept to base the project around.

My idea, as it currently stands, is intended to broaden the interaction from simply between the user and the display, to a further interaction between multiple users. I aim to achieve this by allowing not only for people to draw their own patterns or images to the display, but by having the audience collaborate with each other over a period of time to create one ‘community-made’ visual outcome.

This alteration to the idea is made to both further the complexity of the project and to tie the work into a concept which I perceive as key to the 21st century media landscape. Specifically, I have been looking at the ideas of collaboration and open-source culture.

Open-source is a term which gained popularity along with the rise of the internet (Weber 2004), and is generally used in relation to software development. Software that is open-source has its source code made available to the public under a license which allows anyone to look at, alter and re-distribute the code to be used by anyone and for any reason (St. Laurent 2008). This often results in open-source software being developed collaboratively, by multiple contributors and gives the end user a greater level of control and transparency.

The principle of open-source has spread beyond the collaborative development of computer applications, and elements of this way of producing content can be found in many aspects of modern media. Wikipedia, for example, is a mainstay in the landscape of digital media and provides an immensely useful resource in educating people around the globe. The site acts as an encyclopaedia of much of the world’s knowledge, and is available to edit and contribute to by the public. Without this open-source approach to knowledge curation, the site would undoubtedly contain much less information than it does today.

Many of the other features of the modern World Wide Web can also be seen to have been influenced and helped by open-source principles and ideals. Many of the most-used websites of the 21st century, things like social media, blogs, video communities and forums, all rely on user-generated content. This allows communities to form around these services which produce and consume content for and from each other, collaborating to form a bigger media picture. YouTube is a good example of this, with video crazes and ‘viral’ video phenomena happening all the time. Digital media ‘events’ occur such as the Harlem Shake series of videos, which thrive through user submissions and collaborations. In these examples, what starts as a single video soon becomes a much larger popular culture entity as the public collaborates and contributes more and more videos until there is a much bigger picture than a single or a few videos.

This concept could be summed up as ‘open-source culture’, or simply as collaborative media production, but either way it is clear to see its impacts on the way media, and perhaps especially digital media, is consumed in the 21st century.

The project I currently have planned will make use of these principles in allowing the collaboration between audience members to produce a final result. I am choosing, as per the brief, to follow a more abstract route in exploring media concepts, as I feel it is an area that lends itself more to practical demonstration than explicitly giving the audience a message about it.

I will continue to develop my ideas and aims for the project, and likely start initial development and testing of the core functionality shortly.

References:

St. Laurent, A., 2008. Understanding Open Source And Free Software Licensing. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Weber, S., 2004. The Success of Open Source. Harvard University Press.