11 November 2005

The impending design of one's own Initiation

I adore Andrew Vande Moere's site, Information Aesthetics, as he is constantly scouring the world for posts on information visualisation. Here he has a few posts in the past few days that sort of tie together the idea of a world stress level displayed and reacted to in different ways. The most accessible here is Coca-Cola's Worldchill Radar, which allows you to input your "chill level" and check out the collective mood users around the world are doing in real-time.

Combine this with the eMoto mobile messaging service enhancement. According to Vande Moere:
enhancements of mobile phone text messages to convey emotional expressivity through 'cues of familarity'. the application extends on both the input & output channels when sending text messages between mobile phones. users use affective gestures to convey the emotional content of their messages which are then translated & communicated in colors, shapes & animations. the graphical expressions are non-symbolic & constructed from what is known about the effects of colors, shapes & animations.

And then, to top if off, there is this StressEraser, which is a "new wearable device that uses simple data visualization graphics to calm the mind and relax the body of its wearer. When the left index finger is placed in a sensor clip, the device decodes and then visualizes the influence of the 'stimulating & pacifying nerves.' … After learning this data mapping metaphor, users can adapt their breathing rhythm to stimulate specific nerves to quiet their mind and body."

Tie this in with the concept that Google may have a WebOS in the next decade, free WiFi may be as common as cellular coverage the world over, and and the whole Google ads thing wherever you go will have a database on the fly tailored to your every desire and need, this is an interesting start to a mapping of the social emotional welfare. Can these companies utilise the monster that is Google to create "emotional hotspots," beyond just the chill and stress levels of the Worldchill Radar? Imagine taking it a step further and allowing Jungian psychoanalysts to map out an archetypal journey akin to the Gnostic mythic structure of transcendental experience as spiritual journey. You could set up the paramaters of your own engineered Initiation.

A databse could be consistently updated in real-time of events, their level of intensity and emotional affect over the user, and how they correlate to past events that work themselves into a model akin to Campbell's Mythic Journey, a sort of database structuring humanity's monomyth. You could rate an event a 1 for ease, something you've grown accustom to doing, or a 10 for something that you would rather die than try. You may want an easy weekend, and follow the data fed to you via PDA or whatever, and not surpass the 3 for stress. This might prepare you for Monday where you know you'll be engineering for yourself a Call to Adventure that you'd normally avoid, and embark on a day involving stress levels of 6. Then into the Dark Night of the Soul, really pushing the chaos to a level of 9. Eventually you would restructure your perception of the world through these events and the rating system would be updated to reflect your growth, and new contexts and aventures would be available to you… say, next week, same time, same place? Or maybe you have a business trip to Montréal, try allowing a trip one evening to take you into a realm of stresses and contexts currently unaware to you but inherent in the Québécois culture. Who knows!

Sort of like how the chaos magicians of today engineer their own, I suppose?

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