ITP Thesis Week 2009
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May 8

you tag (before they do)

Hulya Aktun

you tag (before they do) is a design probe into ludic, self-expressive applications of RFID tagging and Near Field Communication technologies. It is a platform that enables everyone to broadcast ON their physical selves, belongings and other city objects ONTO the cell phones of other city dwellers.

We aim for maximum productivity and efficiency in design but we never stop to ask: Do these efficient systems we build add to our leisure time for a more ludic life experience, or do they save us just enough time to stick in yet another quick work task? This participatory design project explores situational and frivolous applications and scenarios of Internetz of Things and possible ways of distributing media in the near future via RFID tagging and Near Field Communication technologies. The project draws on street art and graffiti and introduces a mobile and serendipitous aspect.

Through the distribution of stickers embedded with RFID tags placed on mobile or fixed objects, RFID-enabled cell phones will be tagged with media content created by participants. These stickers are distributed in packs around the city for free and they contain episodic content that other people can contribute to as well. The stickers placed around the city and on moving objects are representative of a collective of artworks/media that lives on an unmediated channel. You Tag encourages free play and activism around issues coerced by society and repressed by other mechanisms. For the first episode, the subject is the collective subconscious and childhood of the city that has been repressed by work ethics, efficiency and the promise of scientific progress.

My goal for this thesis project is to start a conversation about tag litter; what might be some of the consequences if we could anonymously carry and project media on our physical selves on unmediated channels in physical space? How would people respond to new types of interactions thus created? What kind of content, conversations and culture would be produced?

The complete implementation of this project is a near future scenario in certain aspects. The stickers and the database that stores the collections are implemented, which means the collection and distribution of the artworks can start. However, one requirement to the platform is the wide-spread adoption of RFID-enabled cell phones. This part is presented as a working prototype. For now, the artworks and collections are ghosts but they will ‘become’ soon when the technology is adopted and utilized by different industries such as interactive advertising. That is why the tagline of the project is You Tag, before they do...

User Scenario