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Nathan Becker
9/5/11
nathanbeckerdesign@gmail.com

Thesis is the combination of many domains of interest. Social networking in general: Twitter 140 character posts, Flickr photo sharing, Tumblr feed, Facebook the social network, Google Plus the Facebook killer, etc. Everything from Foursquare to Hulu offers social networking and methods for sharing. As a former publication designer, the roots of searching for crowd sourced content that can be contained in a vessel of my creation is a natural shift from what I used to do as an art director.

Twitter seems to be the most obvious relative to tap2post, because of the constraint on participation. With a one-photo-per-day constraint, tap2post hopes to introduce a new method of communication modeled after the success of the tweet.

Currently thesis is taking shape as further exploration of tap2post, the app and group blog created in the Fall of 2011 for Parsons Design & Technology students. They were invited to contribute photos leading up to their final projects for the year. Please see http://tap2post.com/dt for reference.

It was generally an exploration of publishing as a way to connect and self-document a community, especially through new forms of online connectivity, specifically via mobile phone. The DT prototype revealed the participatory documentary practice of the artist, and created a “scene” by spotlighting 75 up-and-coming NYC design and technology artists. In just one month, I had more than 75 users, 500 photos, and 200 comments.

There was an immense amount of feedback. Dave Carroll, the director of the DT program said, “Nathan’s Major Studio 2 project is righteous. It’s an amazing glimpse into the MFADT culture at play.” Classmate and t2p user Hilal Koyuncu posted on her FB wall, “Tap2post/dt is the new facebook!” Even DT people who weren’t using the system were reading the feed and familiar with the project.

Based on participatory art projects of Jöelle Bitton, I pitched an exhibit of the collected photographs to be shown during Parsons Fest 2011. The show was approved and installed single handedly, then opened to an audience of mostly tap2post contributors with wine and balloons. The culminating photo exhibit was part of a huge festival that brought many new viewers to see the archive collected over the course of the month.

Rewind to the initial tap2post concept, which was an attempt to create a one touch blogging tool that would snap a photo at the same time every day and automatically update the user’s blog in one “tap.” At a set time every day an alert would sound that it was time to upload a photo or snap one, which would auto publish to the user’s personal t2p blog.

Currently, AT&T has a phone, the HTC Status, which has a Facebook button on the phone’s interface to allow user’s to share photos with minimal taps. Regardless of current technology, the app could be used to share with different circles (or keep private) your blog about a possible theme: nightlife, fashion, 365 photos, food, family and friends, portfolio, travel, work projects and process (like t2p/dt).

The mechanics were in place: ease of use (one tap/one photo per day) and a daily reminder. This is essentially the problem that tap2post solves for users. Because tap2post limits the amount of writing and reading to one photo per user per day, there is less of a chance of connectivity ennui. Also there is potentially more attention to quality and communication if the photo is the only one that will be posted in a day. The project morphed during prototyping. Without personally building a new phone, the iPhone could never achieve the t2p original vision, the way I imagined it would work.

But with existing technology available to anyone, pretty much out of the box, tap2post’s first working prototype was built on WordPress. Anyone could follow the instructions and curate their own tap2post community of one-photo-per-day bloggers.

Steven Levy described the current trend of photo apps in a Wired online article “Color Me Fascinated: A Photo Social Network for the Here and Now.” The company featured, Color, was described as having “dozens of energetic young people working on long tables loaded with computer equipment.” It seems impossible to break into this world as one person, so I have to seek outside help: venture capitalists, classmates, industry professionals.

I began researching photo bloggers throughout history. I drew a circle around these photographers and recognized they were doing something that seemed spontaneous. They were shining a light on mundane or normal day-to-day interactions. This ran the gamut and included a handful of artists like Andy Warhol, Ryan McGinley, Karlheinz Weinberger’s “Halbstark” exploration of the 1950s with an exhibit at the Swiss Institute. I met with Nan Goldin at a Parsons talk on self-censorship and discussed my project with her afterwards. I also met Jessica Yatrofsky for coffee in Brooklyn. She is currently a famous, popular 2010s photo blogger for East Village Boys and I Heart Boy. She discussed the need for photographers to stay connected and part of the scene, stay published and active.

Jonathan Harris’ work comes up a lot when I think about these concepts. He did “Today” a 365-project that most closely relates to my exploration. He posted a photo a day before he went to sleep at night for his 30th year. Several thousand followers eventually found him. His goal was to “live in the moment more every day, more aware of life.” He found that there wasn’t an end point, rather endless wandering from one day to the next. “I’m obsessed with memory, with not forgetting, with not being forgotten.” He said the growth was significant over the course of the year, with the crutch of having his memories collected for Today. It took on a performative quality. The stories created were seen afterwards reflecting on the photos rather than moment to moment, the way we live our lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH7YxbuZQs8

I would like to contact Harris about my work and see if he has any input or feedback. Where does that lead my thesis for the next nine months? I hope to get some help from someone. I would like to work on building my app to completion so that it would be available to any user to use for any purpose, to further explore this connectivity. I have already discussed rolling out a general tap2post for New York City or Parsons students, or a transsexual sex worker tap2post. I need to facilitate and advertise for these communities, once I have a stable platform for new users to download.

I am not that familiar with conferences in the mobile networking field that could help me, but I have written an abstract for SigGraph a technology conference. I proposed that contributing conference artists could prepare and document using the tap2post interface. A similar exhibition could be curated on site (like the DT exhibit.) The only problem is I have a year to wait until I can submit the abstract.

Most of the projects and thesis concepts written about here are featured on my website http://nathanbecker.com and my thesis blog http://nathanbecker.com/thesis_tk