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Published by Jayne Vidheecharoen

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Published by: Jayne Vidheecharoen on Dec 07, 2011
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Playing in the Street (View)
Creating Co-present & Collaborative Public Spacesin both the Physical and Virtual WorldJayne Vidheecharoen(Thesis Draft)Dec. 4th 2011
We live in a networked world with increasingly blurry lines between our physicaland virtual lives. Our computation-centric society is more orderly, moresystematic, and more governed by algorithms than ever before. Technologists
often rush forward, in the name of progress, without looking back to reect
upon the effects (or missed opportunities) in their wake. Focusing on the “how”instead of the “why” these new pioneers develop faster and better ways ofsystemizing, quantifying, streamlining, documenting and tagging our world. As new algorithms get pumped out faster and faster, ubiquitous networkedcomputing pervades everything from our built environment to our pockets.One effect of this ubiquitous computing has been a fundamental shift in theway we separate work and play (Hilbrecht). The idea of work was once
conned to the tangible real world, while play was allowed to exist in the
intangible imaginary realm. Now for many of us, much of our daily work
only exists in a virtual, intangible, and imaginary realm. As a result, not only
does this liberate our work from rules of reality, it also becomes subject to
the rules of play. One benet of existing in this space is that it’s particularly
ripe for being re-imagined. For instance, a virtual system which was oncedesigned to deliver serious and objective truths, once liberated from the rulesof reality, can become a space for playful and subjective truths. Questionablyobjective truths, created by algorithms, already shape our real life, from
nances to culture to the very terrain of our earth (Slavin). So perhaps new
systems could emerge to support a wide range of subjective truths createdby humans, so that we too can shape the world we live in. Of course asindividuals the effect of our impact may seem inconsequential, but collectivelythe effect could be revolutionary.Within the ordinary world, both physical and virtual, there are already “magiccircles” (Huizinga) ripe for the picking everywhere. These “magic circles”
are special but temporary everyday spaces where rules enable specic
performances. Being subject to arbitrary (and often absurd) constraints, theseareas are subject to new possibilities bound only by imagination. But whatkind of possibilities are we aspiring to create? Within these new systems that
make our lives more efcient, what will be the role of the human? Algorithmic
thinking, which presumes that any problem could be solved through a set of
logic based rules, is quickly becoming an increasingly valuable skill as we nd
more and more ways of systemizing our lives. But this way of thinking favorsrule based, rational, and predictable outcomes, as opposed to potentiallyinnovative outcomes led by human intuition and curiosity. In order to grow we
must create space for capricious thinking (and making) to ourish as well.
With the inconveniences and obstacles of life being “cured” away withtechnology, will there still be space for human intervention, improvisation,and interpretation?
While many believe play to be opposite of work, a good game actuallyinvites players to do more hard work by tackling unnecessary obstacles inan interesting way. The creativity within play comes not from removing
constraints but in fact by reinterpreting and nding new possibility within the
constraints. (McGonigal). Looking at our real world “magic circles” through
the lens of potential opportunities for play, we can nd new ways to reshapeit, with goals other than just prot and efciency. Since people’s behaviors areheavily inuenced by their environment, with this power we also have to takeresponsibility for the type of values or behaviors we’re promoting (Harris). It’s
also important to keep the system open enough for individual agency, allowingnew possibilities to emerge and raise new questions about what we currentlyaccept as fact or normalcy (Wark).With these values in mind, I am interested in mashing up our common everydaytechnologies as a way to create alternative uses for them while challengingour ideas of so-called technological and cultural progress. By hacking together
our existing real and virtual worlds I hope to explore, expose, and exploit the
absurd assumptions that both hold these worlds together and keep them apart.
 Also, by encouraging the co-existence of creative free play in both our digital
and physical lives, I am hoping to create new spaces of possibility for others tobuild upon and reshape.

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