Thingster - The Massive Meta Machine

nym | 02:00 PM


My partner, Anselm Hook has just announced our pet project to the public, so I felt it was the right time to give you the scoop on it here. Much of this project came out of my original goal for an information gathering community, which is certainly not a new concept, but the ideas were very similar to networks that other people like Anselm Hook and Brad Degraf wanted to build. I originally imagined a collaborative network of people wearing cameras, not so unlike camwhores.com, but aimed at allowing a distributed effort from the individual up at affecting change in the community.

So, in the effort to transform igargoyle into the community site it should be, it will be moving to Thingster soon, as a community site. We will be doing event calendars, as well as encouraging people to moblog in with cameraphones and other cyborg like gadgetry. Right now you can go check out Thingster, in it's alpha stage if you're curious.

Thingster is an open-source weblogging service for locative media. It is being developed by Anselm Hook, Tom Longson and Brad Degraf in association with Locative - a multi-disciplinary group of theorists, artists and engineers exploring the implications of attaching information to place.

Users can publish 'virtual post it notes' about any geographic location: a street intersection, a street address, a restaurant, a hiking trail or a geocache.

Speed and ease of use is a key feature. The time from first seeing the service to making that first post can be less than a minute.

The reward or 'exit strategy' for a project like Thingster is social and environmental. The hope is to enrich neighborhoods such that it becomes easy to discover local services at a lower cost and to create additional environmental awareness.

The hope is that people using Thingster should have a higher quality of life than people not use Thingster - they should simply be 'more fit'.

Thingster is in essence a killer web app for the semantic web- It extends the traditional ideas of blogging to include geographic information, events, photo albums, and much more.

As individuals we all benefit from tools that organize knowledge; tools that help us log our discoveries and interests, that let us share information.

Emerging grass-roots tools for sharing geographic information have a particular value. Such tools provide individuals with a way to share their own view of the world - not a corporate, orthodox or official view with all of the rough edges removed.

Grass-roots cartography - as it continues to evolve - has the potential to let individuals understand their surroundings in depth; to see the web of social, economic and environmental issues that tie their community together.

The better our local knowledge is the better our moment-to-moment decisions can be. This includes where and how we spend money, what natural resources we know of, how we use them and what volunteer, recreational and social opportunities we pursue.

Some ideal examples:

  • A shopper can see that there is a local vendor of vegetables, and to see comments from other people about that persons farm, and the farming practices used.
  • A weekend warrior discovers micro hiking trails not on any map that weave strands through a city otherwise divided by roads and cars... improving quality of life.
  • Subtle clues surrounding some local mystery - a missing pet - or an unusual incidence of break-ins become highly elevated. People can reach out and have a louder voice.
  • Destruction of old growth forest habitat would become immediately clear; visualized on a single map - and a much stronger call to action.

Tools are not there yet but are improving. As they improve individuals will have more power, awareness and hopefully wisdom. Member communities as a whole may then wiser as well; better stewarding their resources. A communities knowledge could be handed as a gift to each successive generation.

Updated at 9:30 on June 9th for clarity.

[Thingster - About Thingster]