May 06, 2004

Listening to the World

That was an idea that appealed to me as a kid and it's what attracted me to listening to short wave radio. I used to imagine myself hanging out in space like the Star Child at the end of 2001, somehow being able to hear all the voices of the world at once. I know now that what I was hearing wasn't the voices of the world but rather the edited, naturally biased messages of the governments, companies and institutions that owned the stations. Not the voice of "the people", wherever they are.

I came across an experiment today in Global Consciousness. The idea is to provide a space for anyone to shout out a short message and know that it will be seen within minutes by anyone else on the site. Again, it's not really the globe talking... only those lucky few with computers, connectivity and leisure time. It's an interesting idea, though the global shoutouts aren't that riveting so far.

I wish there were something richer and more visual. In addition to posting short thoughts, I'd like to see how people are feeling each day. Imagine a screen with 50 emotion adjectives (like happy, disgusted, angry, serene). You check off 3 of them and click submit. Now imagine a globe on the screen that shows these emotions as different colors at the exact latitute and longitude of each participant. What would it look like as each day's news is absorbed? How would the colors change over the course of a year through seasons and holidays, or over the course of an election or a war? That would be fun to watch, even if it still only represents the feelings of the few, the proud, the connected.

That doesn't exist, so for now I'll content myself with listening to the world by proxy, filtered through the official media. You can see it all on one page with Newsmap.

Come to think of it, though, that moodglobe site wouldn't be that hard to do. Would it be interesting enough to others to sustain regular and widespread participation?

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