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Brad Anderson: "Gobal Consciousness", 2005

Brad Anderson is a dj, programer and graduated in Information Technology from Carnegie Mellon University in 02002.
In 02005 he created the application "global consciousness" which is based on Macromedia's "Flash" technology. The backend consisting of PHP and MySQL, with PHP updating the current message from the queue and saving it to a file and MySQL taking the message into the database, keeping track of the number of people and providing the login. The application is available as a standalone application, as a screensaver and as a OS X Dashboard widget - or it can be included on a webpage and loaded in a browser window (see below). These clients download the current message together with the geographical location of its author once a minute.

Areas: telematics, dialogical, global consciousness

Image:screenshot of the browser version. The text input field is located above the viewer window.

Global consciousness reveals a small section of a world map in a rectangular window that shows the current night and day hemispheres. Once a minute a short message is displayed while the map is panning to the geographical location of the author of the message. One can observe people having dialogues with each other and recognise that the map and the messages are posted live from all over the world.

A text-input field positioned outside of this viewing window allows to compose and send short messages to the "global consciousness" map. This message is then sent to the server, add to the queque and will be displayed after a while.
By panning to the poster's geographical position and thus placing the participant and his message into the context of the whole world this simple chat utility creates an enhanced sense of immediacy, participation and involvement besides its live character.

The IP address from which the message has been posted from is being looked up in a directory of IP addresses and connected to its physical location in the real world. So whilst the message is displayed on the world map a blinking sign indicates the place or town from where the currently displayed message has been posted from. In return this transforms a simple one-to-many chat-tool into a global and live broadcasting device that creates a vivid sense of immediacy and interconnectedness for uninvolved viewers as well as for the message posters. Interesting is also its performative aspect as parties can get involved in dialogues.

Send your own message to the world from here:


Brad describes that the inspiration for "global consciousness" comes from his dj background. As a dj he becomes connected with his audience in a very primal and non-verbal way. If the chemistry between crowd and dj is right this can bind together and they push each other further and further. The dj reading the crowds preferences and adjusting his selection of sounds, vocals, rhythms and harmonies - and the crowd with their reactions. This bond is continuously changing. For both parties this can be a very intense experience of exchange of energies and emotions.

When working in front of a computer other people and their ideas, thoughts and emotions are usually far away. Global consciousness attempts to bring this energy back - in a global applification. Sometimes hundreds of people are participating in this permanent online event from their computer desktops, exchanging messages and energies from all over the globe.

Transportation in "Global consciousness"

There is no real transportation or immersion happening. The experience of global awareness and interconnectedness is more a psychological and imaginative phenomenon then one of sensorial presence or immersion.

Multimodal sensorial mapping in "Global consciousness"

There is no multimodal, transsensorial mapping in this application.

Classification of "Global consciousness"

Global Consciousness is shared at multiple locations.

Its major effect is to react to other participants - and see others mirror own contributions.

It is screenbased, no interaction in physical space.

Interactive, anyone can post a message.

Difficult: GC is not an installation. Overall it is tangible as it is used with a keyboard and computer mouse.

Its function is clear. One field for input, one for output.

Difficult: Multiple people queue - but only one at a time can perform on the stage.

Collaborative/performative. A queue of participants add after one another to it.

The comments are posted live.

All data is remote, contributions of many people distributed by one server. Everyone sees the same. One-to-many.

At every location it is a single screen. No sound.

David Weinberger has a brief and interesting example of kindergarten children connecting to another group of kindergarten kids in New Zealand via a blog. Its Summer there when its Winter here in the norther hemisphere and that's an interesting example of fostering a planetary awareness a global consciousness in an early age in an application of communication. Very different to the non-dialogical TV. It will be interesting to talk to these kids in 10-20 years.

last update: 6/7/02010 18:49

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