Yesterday I saw an interesting exhibit called Listening Post at the San Jose Museum of Art about understanding, or maybe just observing, internet-based communications.
Here’s the blurb from the project’s Web page:
â€œWhat would 100,000 people chatting on the Internet sound and look like?â€… Listening Post analyzes all the textâ€”typed just moments agoâ€”by tens of thousands of people in Internet chat rooms around the world. It presents them as six different â€œmovements,â€ combining musical tones, sound effects, synthesized voice, and scrolling text. For example, in the first movement, Listening Post monitors and displays a randomly typed text beginning with â€œI am.â€ It then searches the Internet for related phrases, creating a simultaneously funny, sad, nonsensical, pathetic, yearning, quotidian, and ultimately mesmerizing tonal poem of identity in the Internet age.
For centuries, the soaring buttresses, vaulted ceilings, and luminous stained glass of cathedrals, along with hymns and chants, have transmitted that which is beyond expression. Using algorithms, software, and data mining, Listening Post generates a similar experience around what sometimes seems beyond comprehension.
It’s quite an experience with seven “movements” that range from ideas like Wave Cycle, Topic Cluster and I Am (I Like/I Love) where text from the messages floats, drifts or cycles across the many small LED screens in sync with some Philip Glass-like music.
The exhibit runs Saturday, June 3, 2006 through Sunday, May 20, 2007, so hurry up and take a look while it’s still there.