Text Based Life

Origins

We talk more through our phones than we do in person.

I began by thinking about the way I connect to people, and how this network can be viewed from an outside perspective. Taking inspiration from the Snowden revelations, I took the idea to examine my relationships with people from a very narrow perspective. Using only a single form of communication, I aimed to see what could be assumed about my relationships with the people I talk with, simply from my text conversations with them.

The first output of the project is a series of experimental data visualizations based around texts I have sent and received from my top ten contacts over the course of the past five years. Taking a more organic form to contrast the heavily digital nature, each of the 'leaves' represent a contact, with the width of them being how often the keyword of the poster appears.

Interaction

After the creation of the series of posters, I began to think of how the project could be moved into a more interactive medium, as the data I was using was all easily indexed, and searchable. I began to attempt to create the posters in a web based environment, before moving the project in a different direction with TouchDesigner.

The interactive visualization allows for the input of any work or phrase, and will adapt the 3D 'plant’ according to the appearance of the input. Again, with each of the leaves changing their width depending on the frequency of the words appearance in the conversation. A video of the project is available above.

Expansion

I then expanded the project outside of my SMS conversations, and into an examination of location. Along with the five years of SMS messages, I have five years of location history that Google has been collecting on me as well. While my SMS information gives a view of one part of the relationships in my life, my location data can give another view. This set of information can create an entirely different persona to who I am, and my relationships with these people, and in their combination, can give yet another view, again, entirely different from the previous two. This stage is currently a work in progress.

This project was featured at OCAD University's 2018 Digital Futures Open Show.