Design ProjectJournal

Thesis – Iterations to Reinterpretations to the Here and Now

By November 28, 2016 No Comments

Iterations and Reinterpretations of my project

initially, I came to the conclusion that because we are creating so much data and memory online (from social media in particular) it must be a waste. This I believe is partially false, if we were to look at the greater history of memory looking all the way back to cavemen, Gilgamesh, Egyptians, Written Word, to photography today the amount of memory has always been growing. While this isn’t a new phenomenon it’s just as our tools to record have evolved our current tools have allowed this growth to be exponential vs. a linear growth pattern. There is a side note to this in that where before, memory was a collective, and societal act, records of history was based on the collective importance and singular individuals or groups were in charge of its importance. In comparison to today though we are all publishers but no one wants to be the editors asking what is really important and worth keeping. My project needs to encourage and somewhat force them to take on this mantel in whatever form and process it comes out too.

After about of a week of reinterpretations of formats and goals for this project. I believe that I have come to some form a final solution. Before I found myself set on this idea of it being an installation and physical piece but I have come to realize that this was wrong. The main reason for this is that I was so focused on the end point design (something big and pretty) I forgot to solve the problem that got me here, this being the concept of digital hoarding. The conclusion I came to was simply that like treating hoarding in a physical sense doing after and only once doesn’t treat the problem as it will quickly reappear as it doesn’t treat the systemic issues which are the real problems.

This is What it is

I want my thesis to identify and help treat digital hoarding. I’m a problem solver at heart so just making something that encourages talk about the problem to me at least only seems like a half measure. In the case of “digital” hoarding, the problem is 2 part. The first being because it is digital there is no identified result showing that a problem exists or it can be easily hidden away. The second is the ease-of-use, app developers have made the process so it no longer requires thought, but has instead become something of an instinctual process. I am creating new incentives and options over that belief so more time allows for a greater outcome. The latter is only exasperated by social media groups continually telling and encouraging its users to post and share not looking at the personal and societal consequences of it. In the face of this, I’m making an app using solutions and methodologies found in the treating and identifying of traditional hoarders and applying this method to our digital hoarding lifestyle. In the hope that we as individuals can become collectors and curators of this digital archive memory.

Goal: A commentary on the Digital Hoarding mentality and how it hides who we are. People think that by sharing more we more clearly describe ourselves but really we are doing the opposite for us as individuals.

Size: Web Application Projection

Shape: Photomosaic, Sharp spike upwards into a deep valley

Style: Provocative, Reflective, Concerning, Ambivalence, Desire to Change

Medium: IBM Watson, Social Media API Code, python

Message: We share so much online, it is oversaturating our memories. this creates a system that hides and changes how we see our reflection.

With the Goal as stated above to start the coverstaion.. around hoarding memories online and it’s consequences. I am creating a mosatic that


this is how I see myself, pulls out best reflections of that content


This is a mix of a scientific and artistic self-reflective mirror. What you choose to share and save online encapsulates a form of ourselves that we want to preserve. Where as previous disucessed society allowed editiors of this process, what we share online now is raw and instictive. I am asking if this is how you want to see yourself or should you currate more

artistic act not a scientific


A mirror reflects back what the viewer sees.  Who is your viewer — the system? the machine? the user?  In other words, what appears in the mirror depends on who is looking at it.  So, what I’d like to see is what you think this mirror would look like visually.  And why.


To help to determine a solid methodology to curb this behavior I investigated how we curb the current hoarding behavior. In this, I found a publication in the Harvard Medical School discussing the differences between hoarders and Collectors specifically pointing out the distinct facets and differences between the two. I found this piece and a few others like it (Hoarding in the Digital Age: The Big Data Problem), (_) to be quite helpful in providing me a framework as much of the factors for physical hoarding lines up nicely with my found facts about digital hoarding. Examples such as “cluttered and disorganized possessions”, “compulsive buying”, and “keeping things that no one else would be interested in” compare well to cluttered and disorganized equating to too much content and bad GUI, and compulsive buying equating to compulsive posting/saving.

Distinguishing between collectors and hoarders

Collectors Hoarders
Take pride in their collections. Maybe embarrassed by their possessions.
Organize and care for their collections. Have homes cluttered with disorganized possessions.
Enjoy showing others their collections. Avoid letting people see their homes and possessions.
May budget for collection expenses. Often go into debt with compulsive buying.
Take pleasure in acquiring new items. May feel depressed and ashamed when they need to add to their possessions.
Usually, choose items that are also of value or interest to others. Acquire and keep things that no one else would be interested in, such as junk mail

“When keeping stuff gets out of hand” – Harvard Health Publications

Looking at the code side I started with getting all this API data and connecting social media accounts.  Firstly with Facebook as that appears to be the main focus of people’s posting habits. To do this I used Facebook’s Graph API for pulling data which appears successful as found below. After finding this part out I started to mess around with the XCode version of this (which includes the login and permissions) which has been difficult and as of this moment not functional. For the coming week investigating and trying out Instagram’s API may be more worthwhile, as a feature in it allows the forwarding of posts to multiplesocial media services A feature I know people will desire to have if this application is to a successful toolkit. I do feel lucky taking Javascript Advanced as we are currently going over Object Oriented formatting and app.get / functionality so I do have a somewhat functional understanding of how this works…thank god. As you might expect it is a slow process but hopefully something I can overcome.
Working with Facebook's API Graph pulling post data

Working with Facebook’s API Graph pulling post data


Author Davidutt

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