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March 15, 2009

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The Ghosts in the Machine

After taking a moment to digest some of the insights from the two awesome panels this morning, this thought is still dancing in my head a bit. At one point, John Mark Josling said (in paraphrase), I want to push the idea of deepening the social aspects of software. What if Photoshop had a sandbox that could enable you to watch designers/photogs editing a photo in real-time, so you could replicate their actions later? What if Fireworks allowed you to view “ghosts” of other editors creating projects?

I’m fascinated by that notion, especially as apps like Photoshop take their place in the cloud. What if you could “follow” Quentin Shih on Photoshop Express, getting notified whenever he was editing an image, and watch his virtual ghost create art in real-time on your screen? Or watch the ghost of Kutiman splicing and editing hundreds of YouTube clips?

This gets back to Robin’s notion of the emerging “public artist.” It also ties in with my argument about the responsibility of journalists to encode into their work information about how to replicate that work.

Posted March 15, 2009 at 12:17 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted, Technosnark


It's not exactly the same thing, but I loved 43Folders blogger Merlin Mann's "desktop tour" -- something like this would totally work for what you describe.

Another alternative is that some up-and-coming designer beats the established artists to the punch by doing exactly this -- creating a following with a combination of process-art and finished art. (I've got to pitch this to my graphic-design-major students.)

They don't *quite* do what you want (yet), but the apps at Aviary are moving in the right direction. You can open up any Aviary doc -- like this one -- and see its "guts" and even fork your own version.

What you *can't* do yet is play back the history. You're so right... that would be super-cool.

Wow -- just to tell you how much I loved that Merlin Mann videocast above, almost ALL of the apps Mann highlights on his desktop are apps that I now use all of the time.

The implications of this sort of software design are so fundamentally important to how humans, as social animals, learn to make meaning in the world. By rendering visible the methods of human computer interaction, a whole new software/network ecosystem could emerge. I didn't start using Google Reader until I watched the video of Robert Scoble using GR. keywords: Ethnomethodology (ie: Human Methods) and Cognitive Anthropology (I hate that term)

Posted by: Matt Burton on March 15, 2009 at 06:15 PM

I could not love those two terms any more. Awesome. Filed away.

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