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Code Zebra 26 November - 6 December

residency 1.2 (this site under construction; please bear with us)

The Artists
Sara Diamond lead artist / producer
Jason Lewis producer / artist
Skawennati Fragnito coordinator / artist

Artists & Scientists  
Sheelagh Carpenter Silvio Cesare Adrian Chan
Ann Grbavec Susan Kennard Scott Paterson
Josh Portway Warren Sack John Tonkin
Marcelo Walters Pawel Boryniec Lizbeth Goodman
The Goal

Code Zebra seeks to build a cross-media dialogue generation and analysis software machine, synchronous and asynchronous, networked but viable on location, a critical tool, a moderator's tool, able to map and mine data on site, in its archive and on the web; visualization of relationships, dynamics, time relationships, persistence, threaded to other related or opposition positions, attract, able to map and remap, able to suggest relationships, able to analyze and visualize data bases, beauty, individual profile/group profile, facilitate affinities, visualization, reaction diffusions patterns and other related natural sets, evolutionary, "Dialogue Styling", play, able to work with streams, arbitrary values, biases, networks, shared states, disruptions, resocialize users, suggest new relationships, disrupt dialogue patterns. Peace keeping software. "Visualize the dynamics power of information gathering"; from highly structured hierarchical relations (actors with scripts, moderated environments, conferences, to more dynamic), know how YOU like to engage and shop for the feeling of the conversation as much as the topic; analyze structure or give the structure its own intelligence; offshoots of group can find own I.D., keep relationship to rhizome. A major hypothesis of the project is that we can use the patterns found on animals - strips, spots, etc. - to help the user identify themselves in such a space, and to give a recognizable identity to the space as whole.

The Code Zebra residency was undertaking in order to articulate and outline a software that embodies chat and discourse analysis on line, considers live events and the affective qualities of these and enables long term focussed dialogues between individuals and groups from diverse cross disciplinary communities. The software seeks to facilitate the performance of identities, in the now time span of the Internet and streamed media and in the historical sense of a topical digital archive. It will use meta data analysis, text analysis, and computational linguistics and performance theory as well as advanced visualization techniques. The software includes character sets that are identified with specific familiar patterns and linked to ways of acting. While the software allows different patterns to emerge through the chat and discourse analysis, there are a number of these characters embodies within the software which activate when participants begin to talk in certain ways.


Major Issues

Individual vs. Global Patterning
If scientists are giraffes (cautious, always moving), artists ocelots (small, mischevious, energetic) and critics leopards (large, waiting and watching and then pouncing and dominating), how do we allow people to distinguish their visual identity within these groupings? And if they are all aggregated together, will they form a global pattern which is recognizable and meaningful?

Pattern vs. Information vs. Meaning
Zebra patterns are recognizable, but are they meaningful to us? Do differences in the pattern help us distinguish differences in quality, or heredity, or disposition? If we use such patterns in a software system to identify individuals, types of conversations, and the general state of the entire conversational topology, will users be able to read them?

Qualities of Conversations
What information do we want to extract from the conversations which are ocurring? Rate of reply, length of post, frequency of post; enflamed, reflective, meditative, aggressive, defensive; enouraging, supportive, dismissive, etc...

Migrating Through Patterns
Are the patterns fully determined by automatic processes or by the users themselves? And how do the users' patterns change over time, and how then does the patterning of the entire space change over time?

Starting From Zero
How do we bootstrap the envirnoment into a state which contains meaningful information?

What's the Maths Involved?
Can Voronoi diagrams be employed? What about reaction-diffusion patterns?



Over the course of 10 days, we boiled the major issues down to three high-level questions pertaining to making the software concrete:

How to represent large-scale chat/dialogue spaces?
In other words, what visual language is appropriate for conveying the dynamics? Reaction - Diffusion, Voronoi...

How to allow user to simultaneously participate in a particular thread while attending to the larger conversational geography?
2-D space with 3-D pockets, personal disks

How to create patterns which are true to the data, meaningful to the user and maintain the animal-skin aesthetic?


Draft Scenario

A minimalist storyboard describing a user's experience of the environment.


CRiT 1.3 @ SFMoMA

The CodeZebra group presented their draft scenario at CRiT 1.3, which was co-hosted by the SFMoMa.



Every day, from 11 to 11. This document gives you more detail on the questions with which we were wrestling.