Sunday, February 15, 2015

Crossing Paths

A way to cross paths with what you love outside your circles.

A way to change your scene.

A way to remotely connect with ideas you love.

If I could sum up what I'd love to see most, this would be it.

The most glaring thing we noticed when curating the world's largest  GPS story atlas:  People go to the same places and scenes regularly. Home, work, and hangouts. People, for the most part, stay put.

Mobility is financially, vocationally and socially constrained to keep people in the same places.

New locations for exploration are sparse. New ways of connecting are sporadic among regular contacts in social media.

* * *

Leaving your circles for new stories would be a form of "reverse social media."

In theory, connecting to a new story could be similar to Pandora recommending a new song by parsing phrases of songs you already love. "Mutual" phrases shared by songs have the same resonance.

It is like tapping into a parallel universe.

If you like the Clash, chances are you like The Ramones. Chances are the Ramones and the  Clash shared a mutual place.  And chances are they will both be profile tagged together in one post.

This '"mutuality" can define a genealogy of taste.

Because you read a story about the Clash at the Roundhouse (London)....

You might also like stories about the Ramones who  were also there....

You might also like stories of Blondie who also played there...

Places define tastes.

If you like a story that took place here, chances are you will find stories you like at other places anyone at this place frequented. There is "locative  mutuality."

New story exploration can be made even more intelligent with "personal mutuality" and "curated mutuality."  Personal mutuality can be defined as having interacted with a tag - through a like, search, comment, follow, post or view.  Curated mutuality can be defined as having mutual tags, connecting curated posts like Wikipedia.

 Stories of Paul Simon, Television, Richard Lloyd, Fred Smith, Tom Verlaine, CBGB and Lisa Kristal have "curated mutuality" via mutual tags. 

A viewer will also often skew towards a specific interest in media consumption.

Curated posts can almost be categorized into 6 topics: 1) Movies 2) Photos of the Day 3) Music 4) Biographies and History 5) Literature and 6) Invention and Art. Common topics further connect posts in "curated mutuality."

We also experimented astrological mutualities: People who shared common anniversaries had similar outcomes regularly.  A horosocope came true daily.

So wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a new way to connect with people you don't know at  places that are about what you love?

Through this method, you can be matched with viewers who  have the most common "mutualities."  This can be as simple as having crossed paths with a common place in your histories.

Writers were at Frank Shay's Bookshop (4 Christopher, NY) at different times and signed this door. 

This adds another "mutuality" - how 3rd parties personally connected with places can connect posts further. If Ernest Hemingway stayed at a hotel in Paris and Joe likes Ernest Hemingway and you like Joe, chances are you might like that hotel and the stories there. 3rd parties can also rank the most interesting posts.

"Locative mutuality" can be defined as stories or connections  you have in common with a place. Or conversely, places you have in common with stories and connections.

The people who  have "mutualities" with you  can  in turn offer you  unique personal knowledge,  intriguing stories or cool pictures of a place. Comment sections in locative posts become more like answers in Quora about a place. 

The greater the curation, the greater the expertise becomes at a place. Quality attracts quality. So it is key to reward posts for quality. Curators might be voted Mayor of a place for best story or photo at a place, for example.

* * *

For the last little while, I've been meditating on what experiences I've had that I can't live without while participating in a new creative field.

Locative media combines both photo curation with location identification. The offspring is a new streetview that shows you  iconic stories and pictures geo-tagging history. Iconic moments are displayed street by street. They defined the topography of a place by narrative.

Movieview of Robert De Niro in Godfather II at 524 E 6th St, NYC

But a place like Central Park can have 1000s of stories, and a city like New York can have 8 million stories.  Stories nearby can also remain static to nullify regular exploration nearby. So how to filter stories for an exciting presentation for you became the next challenge as well as how to extend your exploration.  "Mutuality"is one way to understand what intrigues you most and can extend a path outside your circles.

* * *

It's no surprise notifications drive media consumption. But the question is how to make notifications less superfluous and more rewarding.

"Like" or new "follower" notifications may be more meaningful if the source is a peer of interest or expert in the field. Ranking profiles might make sense (e.g. by  how many likes an expert has and how many mutualities a peer might have with you).

Suzanne Vega favorited the places i mapped of her lyrics and life

Comment notifications might be more rewarding if they tell you stories you never knew about a place or profile you love. Photo threading can offer different perspectives of a post.

The posts with the greatest mutual personal connections tend to be the most popular. A viewer identifies most with a post where there is a personal connection.

* * *
After defining a way to measure "mutuality," the next question is how are these story results triggered? 

For convenience, we   considered integrating into something you love doing  regularly already as a digital activity.

It could be taking pictures, viewing pictures or curating pictures.  Imagine while doing this, you can learn something unique about the photo and the subject matter.  

Alternatively, we asked, what would compel you to leave what you love doing regularly to explore new stories -- out of your current radius of travel and social media usage.   Instead of a Google search, you might consider stories within six degrees of separation in a location, image or profile search. 

Stories (search results) are connected by "mutualities"

After spending much of the year observing communities that view interesting stories and photos and people who have a passion for finding their locations, this is a summary of what I saw people love most.

1. Visual feed showcasing refreshing and highly interesting photos. 
2. Mysterious locations identified for familiar images.
3. Personal connections with places and people that crossed paths with our past. 
4. Comments adding personal stories, facts and interesting images related to the post. 
5. Likes from experts

The only question that remained was how to make it efficient to showcase what you love most. Measuring mutualities could be the answer. The net effect is a Pandora for storytelling.

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