Know Your Place 2.0

January 2012

software, augmented reality, rca

P1 Runner Spotter

(more photographs)

Exhibited at the GRIST! Work in Progress Show, Royal College of Art, London (February 2012).

Know Your Place 2.0 examines how Web 2.0 thinking is changing people’s relationships with government and decision-making. As more human activities are mediated by interconnected electronic systems, well-timed electronic interventions can change the physical world. However, the tradition conflicts of shared resources persist. How do we manage the individual's desire to enact immediate change?

Know Your Place 2.0 is situated in Vauxhall, London, an area with an uncertain identity. Geographically it is set between local government in Brixton, national government in Westminster and is the location of the MI6 headquarters, operating outside the democratic process.

Building on my Augmented Skies work, Know Your Place 2.0 is an Augmented Reality application running on an Android phone. It proposes that live imagery from the camera can be manipulated to execute actions in the physical world. The prototype shows that by tapping the object on the screen a dialog box is opened which, for instance, allows the user to report a bin is needing collection. More extremely it suggests that the electronic plans used by construction workers could be changed through such an interface to reflect an individual’s will to reduce the height of a skyscraper. It critiques the notion that democracy can be direct, immediate and uncontended; an attitude exemplified by the group 38 Degrees.

I use the Unix file permissions of rwx (read, write and execute) as a framework for thinking about these interactions. Numerous projects have used Augmented Reality to allow people to become aware of electronic hidden layers - to read the Hertzian Space. These include Superflux‘s Song of the Machine and the commercial Layar framework. Some significant examples allow data to be written at a geo-located point, for instance Twitter and foursquare. Only a few allow actions to be executed in the physical world, for instance TV-B-Gone a device for turning off any television in a public space.

The theme of electronic interventions is further developed in Running Lives with Data.