Real Life Location

Spotted this on Pulse over lunch and thought it was worth sharing:

Twitter is modern day people watching. Anytime you check it, you see what a person is thinking or doing or saying. But it’s not all happening in a digital vacuum, they’re on break at work tweeting about their boss, they’re outside a hospital tweeting about their day, they’re somewhere tweeting about something. This photo project, Geolocations, by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman show where people are when they send out tweets. It’s completing the picture.

The photos are revealing—sometimes you have tweetable thoughts in the dumbest places. Your bathroom, the subway stop, the back alley. Other times the tweet locations are powerful—you’re tweeting about trying to start a relationship… from a motel. Larson and Shindelman dig through public Twitter feeds that tag a location and then travel to those spots to photogram them. It’s funny to see a place for the thoughts (er, tweets) that existed there rather than the place itself.

Adding a photograph doesn’t necessarily assist in painting the whole picture behind the tweet:

Tell me I'm not making a mistake. Tell me you’re worth the wait. #fb
Tell me I’m not making a mistake. Tell me you’re worth the wait. #fb

In fact, if anything, it merely adds to the intrigue. Appetites whet, curiosity piqued, suddenly we want the gaps filled in t’s crossed and i’s dotted.

But there’s more to it than that – before social media, we interacted with one another on a far more intimate level. Take the artists’ example of the very first photograph they took:

The first one we shot was three years ago in downtown Chicago just as the financial crisis was getting really bad in the United States. At that moment, this particular Tweet was by someone who had apparently lost his job at an investment bank. When we stood at the base of that investment bank, it really connected with us and made it clear what it is to be a part of that tragedy or event.
We were also thinking a lot about how people were relating to each other in this way. Rather than going to a bar and crying it out with close friends, he is posting it on Twitter where anybody could access this information.
This points to a big shift about how people relate to each other in this day and age.

I completely agree. Cape Town being what it is (a small and intensely interwoven community under a rock), I regularly recognise people who Mrs 6000 deals with at work and I state that I “know” them. In actual fact, I don’t “know” them at all; I see them on Twitter, I may occasionally interact with them online. But that’s as far as it ever goes. So there’s actually a huge difference, and just as the word “Like” has taken on an entirely new meaning on the last few years, so we have also changed our interpretation of  “knowing” someone.

While these sort of changes don’t trouble me (and nor does keeping a distance from people who I actually don’t “know”), I’m still looking for a more descriptive and compact terminology for this phenomenon of online acquaintance.
I’m sure there’s some ever so trendy phrase out there for exactly this situation, but I don’t often do ever so trendy.

Anyway, there’s more of their work and more of that interview on the link above. Go see.

  • There’s all sorts of fascinating art/”just plain cool” possibilities springing up with so much geo-tagged information floating around these days.

    On a related note, have you come across Stochastic Planet? Not sure where I got the link from but it’s a pretty cool way of “exploring” the world: http://stochasticplanet.tumblr.com/

  • You cant know someone completely from a few tweets. But, over time, you do build up a relationship with the people you interact with online… limited to what they want to disclose of course. I’ve been on social networks for a few years now and the way online friendships and relationships grow still fascinates me.
    The idea that you have to meet someone in real life for them to be a significant part of your life is outdated. Are these people all friends? Probably not… but they have an influence on my life and those interactions are as real as any face to face ones.

  • Richard > Yeah, kind of fun. I’m going to have a look at that link now, thank you.

    anib > Correct, I’m not suggesting that it’s not “real” as in the generally accepted definition of “real” – there’s another one. But how well can you really “know” someone online? And yet you allow these people in influence your “real” life?