I felt that attending the Activist Demo Day was a perfect way to gain a more-than-conceptual idea of how technology can serve as an impetus for social change. Additionally, this event fueled my enthusiasm for this course and the opportunity to create my own civic media project. Below you will find a rundown of the projects that left a lasting impression.
GIFpumper is a social media platform for launching 3D platforms. At the event, we were able to move through the interface (on the computer and prjoected on the screen) to explore different art pieces. Additionally, 11 artists were chosen to include a physical representation of their work as an installation within the Eyebeam Gallery. What I found striking about this, was that the computer program and the tactile pieces delivered such contrasting experiences. This sort of model is able to engage different user preferences (tactile vs. digital), while also allowing artists to build a virtual community. Seeing the art projected on the screen and then seeing physical pieces in front of you almost gives the physical pieces an “as seen on TV” type of celebrity/familiarity.
The Occubot, by Taeyoon Choi, was one of my favorite pieces. It was comprised of a mechanized “occupy” sign that continually raised and lowered, a bull horn that moved on a mechanized platform and a plywood “Management Bot” wearing a tie and a forlorn expression. A video accompanied the installation, so viewers could understand the ‘bots’ in the context of Occupy Wall Street. What was interesting to me about this piece, is that their is a layer of ambiguity to it. The Management Bot seems to represent mechanized work flow in a capitalist society, but the mechanized occupy sign and bullhorn seem to represent the protest itself as automated and unthinking. Conversely, the bots can be seen as a way to protest, draw attention to the cause, and occupy after the occupiers were kicked out. I am reminded of the video we watched on the first day of class, where the ‘cuteness’ of the robot was used to get the attention of people otherwise might dismiss the cause or simply keep walking.
Green Map is an online organization and app where users can upload data into a map of their cities using icons. These icons identify green markets, recycling centers and arts organizations, amongst others. What is cool about this is that it makes being environmentally conscious convenient and it gives seeking out a green lifestyle the essence of following a treasure map. Green Map was founded in NYC and is currently available for 775 cities in 60 countries.
This app allows you to use your phone to reveal the ‘augmented reality’ or the story behind what your eyes can see, by snapping a photo. For example a photo of the Apple Store might reveal an image of a Foxconn Factory worker. This is reminiscent of an app the History Channel launched, which allows you to learn the history of a specific location by revealing its address or coordinates. Collectively, these apps show how education and activism, and not simply Angry Birds, can be promoted through applications.
Vibe is a social media app which allows you to communicate with people in your region anonymously. This is especially useful for movements like Occupy Wall Street, where the collective voice matters and some degree of anonymity can be beneficial in organizing. It also represents a way that the general assembly model can be improved through a free technology.