13th March 2014

Rootbeans is drawing game and social media platform which uses ‘playful little data’ beans to explore how choice, chance & circumstance operate in collaborations between people. Big data is a big topic at the moment. The collection of personal data from people is common practice and as more of this data is being uploaded to the cloud, there is growing concern about how this data is being used and abused. Our humanity, identity and culture is changing due to an ever more ‘online’ world. People are losing touch with ‘offline’ interactions. Playing, talking, sharing, looking are becoming ever more mediated through computing.

Rootbeans is taking a look at this and playing with it. Creating ‘little data’ which ties together our basic human need to survive, connect, play and learn with the need to take advantage of the opportunities presented by knowledge, computing, data and the cloud to make our lives better. This comes in the form of ‘little’ data sets created with physical objects like beans, buttons and bottletops which can act as data tokens. Each has it’s own unique identity. Traced and tracked via the Rootbeans drawing game and web app, participants are invited to take ownership of their data and then to release it into both the real and virtual world simultaneously so that these tokens can be played with, exchanged, and can acquire value and worth over time – as a currency and unit of transaction to be bought, collected and sold.

My aim by the end of the module is to have a brand for Rootbeans along with a website which is busily nurturing a community of people adding little data sets and playing Rootbeans games which will be shared online via the website, as well as displaying some data visualisation.

How it’s going to work

There are some technologies which i am very keen to play with for this module. These are at the database and a much deeper programming layer than I’ve ever ventured to. I will be developing a Node.js app using MongoDB as the relational database. Node offers a network-ready platform for developing a flexible web app using javascript (which ties in nicely to my work on processing and previous experience). MongoDB is an alternative loose structured relational database which uses collections rather than tables and is optimised for web apps and networks as it plays nicely with other API’s such as Twitter.

Building on last modules proposal, i will be creating a very simple data collection app which asks people to create a new set, give it a name, then add the same 10 beans they have created (actually on beans) into the app. Once on the app. The app will give a uniqu 5 digit id back to the player which they will be encouraged to write on the back of the bean thus linking the bean to the data object. At a later date the player will have a chance to trace the life of that data object as it gets played and replayed at different times by themselves and other people.

MaDMA proposal: Virtual Cultures & Network Practices

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