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Stonemaps: A Slow Intentional Network for Collective Sentience

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Stonemaps: A Slow Intentional Network for Collective Sentience

Abstract and Figures

We present a framework to promote the formation of slow intentional networks with characteristics of gifting, dialogue, and collaboration. These networks are formed through the physical gifting of river stones that are hydrographically printed with maps and embedded with an NFC chip. When handed from one person to the next as a gift, a stone (through the scan of its NFC tag) opens a channel to its virtual network and asks the recipient to contribute to the intention of the network. This contribution can be of any type (voice, picture, text) and once gifted, becomes part of the collective knowledge of the network. The recipient is then tasked with gifting the stone to another. By introducing a physical stone as the mechanism for connection, this framework deliberately slows the traditional notion of social media networks and enforces a more considered personal, intentional interaction between the network constituents and their contributions. The intent is to blend the best of physical and virtual interactions towards deeper, more meaningful conversations that can collab-oratively create, solve, and investigate-a kind of documented collective sentience, a network that can be deeply and reliably interrogated.
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Stonemaps: A Slow Intentional Network for Collective Sentience
Hanif Janmohamed, Maria Lantin, Alex Hass, Renrong Guo, Devon Girard
Vanilla Five Creative Inc.; Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Vancouver, BC CANADA
hanif.janmohamed@gmail.com, mlantin@ecuad.ca, alex@alexhass.ca,rguo@ecuad.ca, dsgirard@gmail.com
Abstract
We present a framework to promote the formation of slow
intentional networks with characteristics of gifting, dialogue,
and collaboration. These networks are formed through the
physical gifting of river stones that are hydrographically
printed with maps and embedded with an NFC chip. When
handed from one person to the next as a gift, a stone (through
the scan of its NFC tag) opens a channel to its virtual network
and asks the recipient to contribute to the intention of the net-
work. This contribution can be of any type (voice, picture,
text) and once gifted, becomes part of the collective knowl-
edge of the network. The recipient is then tasked with gifting
the stone to another. By introducing a physical stone as the
mechanism for connection, this framework deliberately slows
the traditional notion of social media networks and enforces
a more considered personal, intentional interaction between
the network constituents and their contributions. The intent
is to blend the best of physical and virtual interactions to-
wards deeper, more meaningful conversations that can collab-
oratively create, solve, and investigate – a kind of documented
collective sentience, a network that can be deeply and reliably
interrogated.
Keywords
Intentional Networks, Slow Media, Gifting, Sharing Econ-
omy, Collaboration, Co-Creation, Dialogue, Physical Inter-
faces, The Commons
Introduction
We began the Stonemaps journey with “what if?” What if we
could create an intentional network through the act of gifting
a beautiful object like a patterned stone? What motivations
would prompt such an act of gifting? What would be the
traces of that relational act and how would they accumulate
to create value and strengthen existing bonds?
This interrogation originated from a feeling of being awash
in information and yet shallow in conversation. The mediated
virtual social network – the capacity to link to almost anyone
– is not (yet) structured for good conversation, for the distil-
lation of knowledge, for the promotion of a kind of collective
sentience. For us, there is a sense that this is missing, that
we used to have more depth in conversation than we do now.
Perhaps it was not as connected, but it was deeper and less
noisy. This decrease of order leads to more unpredictabil-
ity which is, in effect, less intelligence. Proponents of the
“quantified self” claim that offloading the creation of order to
networks of algorithms will fill this gap. [1] That is, as long
as we continue making data, eventually we will understand
ourselves. Indeed, Harari warns of the inflection point when
algorithms will know us better than we know ourselves. [2]
While we grant that algorithmically-guided decision making
will continue to form part of a more ordered future, we also
believe that collective wisdom requires the more direct influ-
ence of first-hand experience, which is not easily translated to
an algorithm but is readily conveyed to others through conver-
sation. A good conversation diverges and converges around
a shared state. It creates trust and intimacy. It takes time,
practice, and patience. Unfortunately, the structure of current
social networks is not designed for these kinds of conversa-
tion. Social networks are, rather, optimizing for quantity of
content and time spent on a platform. This phenomenon has
been articulated in depth by writers and thinkers such as Carr,
Alter, Harris, Turkle, and others. [3, 4, 5, 6] What has become
apparent is a descent into shallow, provocative, and often un-
civil interactions.
Solutions proposed by the major platforms for the restora-
tion of civility online have mostly focused on small changes
such as hiding the number of likes on posts or developing
smarter algorithms that detect conduct that is against a plat-
form’s terms of service. [7] While there seems to be a recog-
nition of the problem and its sources, the big platforms are
hampered by a business model that is not aligned with the
goal of good conversation. [8] Indeed, the “move fast and
break things” mantra of Silicon Valley does not apply to it-
self.
There are parallel conversations that argue for the slow-
ing of media for a healthier relationship to our digital ecosys-
tems. [9, 10, 11, 12] They propose a redesign that takes as
inspiration the Slow Food movement and asks us to mind
the means of production and consumption. A related con-
cept is that of The Commons articulated by the P2P Foun-
dation, [13] which advocates for the participatory creation
and stewardship of common goods that are universally ac-
cessible (“Productive citizens in communities creating shared
resources.” [14]) Taken together, these ways of structuring
media aim to deepen engagement and produce collective sus-
tainable abundance of knowledge. Michel Bauwens of the
P2P Foundation argues for “subversive constructionism” to
build different kinds of social networks that provide what we
need. Stonemaps is our contribution to the subversion of ex-
isting social media networks. It is a provocation based on
slow intentional networks of gifting. The values that animate
Stonemaps are in line with those of the Slow Media Manifesto
and include: intimacy, trust, dynamism, curiosity, generosity,
creativity, responsibility, joy, collaboration, preciousness, in-
tentionality, and the gift.
The Stonemaps Network
Figure 1: Stones c
Hanif Janmohamed
We start with the humble stone as the material anchor for
the Stonemaps network. A stone takes its time, measured
in eons. Over millennia a stone comes into itself and gains
its identity. Its beingness is timeless and expressed through
its form and its materiality. It has been here for eons before
us, and will be here for eons after we are gone. It warms
from the heat of our hands as we hold it and has a focused
weighty presence – a kind of “thing-power” as described by
Bennett. [15] The stone is also a metaphor of our own context
– a reminder of the very large stone that we are all standing on
and share, and upon which our existence is so thinly spread
like a film or a pattern on a stone. Holding the stone is sym-
bolic of stewardship for what is beneath our feet. In that way,
the stone has a grounding force that moves through us and
quiets our abstraction - at least momentarily. This may be the
magic of stones and why humans like to pick them up and
hold them - but then we throw them away - and in that, they
are symbolic of our personal power as well. We have to de-
cide what to do with them once we have them in hand: throw
them away, throw them at someone, skip them on the water,
abandon them - give them as a gift.
The Stonemaps stones are smooth river rocks that are mod-
ified to contain an NFC tag. They are also visually embel-
lished with a pattern printed on their surface – a map (See
Fig. 2). The stones travel as gifts, creating an intentional net-
work as they change hands. Giving a stone to another per-
son is a kind of entrusting of a shared intention, an invitation
to join a Commons. The stones are travelers on the waves
of gifting, on the generosity of human curiosity. The stone,
once given, can be read by a mobile device that then reveals
a glimpse of its travels and prompts a contribution to a vir-
tual network. In this way, there are always two layers to each
Stonemaps network: the physical material layer of the trav-
(a) Printed stone.
c
Hanif Janmohamed
(b) NFC chip in stone.
c
Hanif Janmohamed
Figure 2: Stonemaps network stone. The maps can be of any
desired (real or fictitious) location and scale. The image of the
map is fused onto the stone surface using a high-resolution
transfer process.
eling stone, and the virtual layer of the network of stone re-
cipients that continue to contribute to the network’s intention.
The momentum of the stone is the energy of the network and
regulates its speed.
The intention of the network can take many forms. Per-
haps the stone wants to arrive at a particular destination, meet
a particular person, answer a complex question. Perhaps the
intention is driven by an Artificial Intelligence which sets
an alien agenda, puzzling to the network initially but even-
tually becoming clearer as a diverse set of human minds
are prompted toward the intention. The intention of the
Stonemaps network is satisfied through the input of the mem-
bers of the network as the stone travels from hand to hand.
The Gift as Slow Media
The Stonemaps mechanism of exchange and growth is quite
simple and yet contains within it some powerful principles.
The requirement of making a personal connection with an-
other person and entrusting them with the stone as a gift slows
down the growth of the network and underlines the respon-
sibility of now holding the stone and its intention. This is
aligned with point 2 of the Slow Media Manifesto:
Slow media promote Monotasking. Slow Media can-
not be consumed casually, but provoke the full concen-
tration of their users. As with the production of a good
meal, which demands the full attention of all senses by
the cook and his guests, Slow Media can only be con-
sumed with pleasure in focused alertness. [9]
The gift encounter can engender a feeling of sensuous en-
chantment that Bennett defines as “that strange combina-
tion of delight and disturbance,” [16] which, she posits, can
prompt a more ethical engagement with the everyday world.
Indeed, she takes this idea further in a later publication by tak-
ing a critical look at the catalytic effects of non-human bodies
in this relation of enchantment. [15] The artist Lee Mingwei
has also investigated the feeling of delight and disturbance in
his participatory installation Moving Garden where visitors
are invited to take a flower with the obligation to gift it to a
stranger that they encounter while taking a detour from their
usual route home. [17] In this way, he introduces strangeness
to both the gifter and giftee, inducing what may be a quite
profound experience.
During the Stonemaps gifting encounter, there is a trans-
fer of information about the network and its intention. The
gifter communicates the obligation inherent to the gift to the
intended recipient. Not only is this transaction slow but the
contribution requested from the Stonemaps network also de-
mands focused attention – it is not a throwaway tweet or pic-
ture but rather a significant first introduction to the network
and a serious engagement with the network’s intention. There
is likely to be a significant delay between being gifted the
stone and gifting it to the next person, as the new recipient
considers their first contribution. All of these layers of slow-
ness around the ritual of the gift stress the importance of non-
trivial engagement.
The Gift as Obligation
The stone, however precious it may look and feel to the
holder, cannot be kept as a possession. Its value is intricately
tied to its movement as it catalyzes the growth of the network
and the addition of new data to the network. The beauty of
the stone is representative of the value of the gift, not as an
object but as an invitation into a rich dynamic conversation.
The role of the gift in its various forms within human so-
cieties has been well studied and eloquently articulated by
Mauss and Hyde. [18, 19, 20] Some gifts are ritualized and
form part of cyclical exchange (e.g. the Kula rings of the
Trobriand Islands), or serve as symbolic proofs of tribal ties
on a macro scale (e.g. ostrich eggshell beads of the African
Kalahari Desert), [21] or are a demonstration of communal
shared wealth (e.g. Northwest Potlatch). In all cases, gifts
carry with them social obligations that strengthen communal
bonds. By operating outside of the commodity market, they
promote inter-dependency over individualistic freedom. The
act of gifting enacted in the Stonemaps network encompasses
three obligations:
The Obligation to Give: There are two layers of gifts act-
ing within the Stonemaps network: the gift of movement
of the stone to the next recipient (the stone wants to travel),
and the gift towards the Stonemaps network intention (the
network seeks). The network needs to motivate the current
holder of the stone to both contribute towards the intention
of the network and to gift the stone to another. This can
be achieved through personal persuasion from the previous
gifter (see The Obligation to Reciprocate) or through net-
work benefits that only accrue once the stone is gifted. If
the holder fails to uphold the obligation to give, the stone
will continue prompting the holder to “set it free” (See
Fig. 3).
The Obligation to Receive: The acceptance of the stone is
both a commitment and a burden. By accepting the stone
the recipient implicitly promises to fulfill the contract to re-
ciprocate, to become part of a communal bond. The stone
asks for a thoughtful contribution to the network’s inten-
tion, and an eventual departure toward its next recipient.
The intended recipient is free to refuse the gift, however
a trace of that refusal remains as a kind of recorded inter-
personal loss.
The Obligation to Reciprocate: The obligation to recipro-
cate is an onus and privilege - a worthy imperative. The
gifter imparts the importance of the obligation to the recip-
ient of the gift and hopes that this social tie will be suffi-
cient for the stone to remain in motion. Traditionally, the
failure to reciprocate is seen as a “debt bond” that does not
expire. [19]
Figure 3: Stonemaps prompts to release. c
authors
If these obligations are fulfilled, the full richness of the gift
becomes apparent: a dynamic and intimate group of actors
committed to contributing to a varied and deep conversation
for the benefit of the network.
“It is the cardinal difference between gift and commod-
ity exchange that a gift establishes a feeling-bond be-
tween two people, while the sale of a commodity leaves
no necessary connection. [...] a gift makes a connec-
tion.” - Lewis Hyde, The Gift. p. 72 [18]
Successive connections between people, bonded through gift
exchange, are aggregated in the stone’s memory. By acquir-
ing contributions from participants over time, the stone accu-
mulates greater worth and symbolic value. This cumulative
accretion transforms the humble stone into a talisman - a fu-
sion of person and thing. In turn, the talisman amplifies and
affects subsequent personal connections, enriching the net-
work over time.
The Gift as Strengthening Weak Ties
The stone travels on paths of “weak ties” – connections be-
tween diverse groups of strongly interconnected individuals
(strong bonds). Weak ties typically represent inter group con-
nection made by individuals, across networks (See Fig. 4).
For example, a person may know very well the person they
are gifting the stone to and may have chosen them specifically
for the network but (especially over time) the existing mem-
bers of the stone’s network are likely to have a much more
distant connection to a new member. The stones travel along
Figure 4: Weak ties vs. Strong ties. p
these lines of connection thus acting as bridging devices and
encouraging diversity, a wider world view, empathy, novelty,
and innovation. Granovetter was the first to show the impor-
tance of weak but bridging ties between networks. [22] He
showed that strong bonds tend to favour dense clustered net-
works and that, in the absence of weak bridging ties, informa-
tion flow was segregated and less novel. Later, the concept
of the “bandwidth” of a connection was added by Aral and
Van Alstyne [23] to foreground instances where strong bonds
do correlate well with novel information simply by virtue of
greater frequency of exchange even if the overall proportion
of novelty was lower than that of weak ties. From the point
of view of the Stonemaps network model, we are looking to
maximize reach and diversity while strengthening the over-
all bandwidth of the network. So, while the initial ties to
the Stonemaps network may be weak, they are strengthened
over time through a common intention and motivation. The
obligation of the gift provides the initial momentum towards
stronger ties, which then evolve as the benefits of the network
accrue to the group (The Commons).
The Gift as Building Block for a Commons
Once the gift of the stone has been received and reciprocated,
the former holder of the stone is now a full-fledged partici-
pant in the virtual Stonemaps network. This network func-
tions in many of the same ways as the social media networks
we are accustomed to (e.g. account, contributions, and com-
ments), however its function is based on the principles of The
Commons. The members of the network are the creators and
stewards of the contents of the network. The network is gov-
erned by its members and its value accrues to them1. The
activity and regulation of the Stonemaps network is commu-
nally decided and managed. There are many examples of
successful physical and virtual Commons such as car shar-
ing co-operatives, the Open Source Software movement and
1This is in stark contrast to the large social media networks cur-
rently in operation, which accumulate behavioural data from their
members for the benefit of third party clients (the prediction futures
market). [8]
Wikimedia. Elinor Ostrom, awarded the Nobel Prize in eco-
nomics in 2009, conducted a worldwide study of common-
pool resource (CPR) groups. She found that groups are ca-
pable of functioning sustainably without requiring top-down
regulation if they follow eight core design principles [24]:
1. Clearly defined boundaries;
2. Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs;
3. Collective choice arrangements;
4. Monitoring;
5. Graduated sanctions;
6. Fast and fair conflict resolution;
7. Local autonomy;
8. Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making au-
thority (polycentric governance)
It is beyond the scope of this paper to fully describe these
design principles but even in their short form they allude to
some of the pitfalls that are being averted. The Stonemaps
network will be implemented in a way that supports these
design principles both technologically and inter-personally.
One common pitfall of social media networks is the pres-
ence of bad actors – conflict instigators and trolls. One of
the ways in which the Stonemaps network mitigates this pit-
fall is through the mechanism of the physical gift to grow the
virtual network. Every person in the network will have been
seen and spoken with by at least one other member of the net-
work. Indeed, the inherent obligation of the gift will preclude
many potential bad actors. Beyond this, there will be other
mechanisms within the network that select for collaborative
actions towards shared goals, and give the group the ability to
isolate problematic individuals.
While the movement of the stone through gifting gives
form to the network, the intention of the network is the mech-
anism by which it creates the value that is shared by its con-
stituents. The intention of the network influences how stone
recipients are prompted to contribute to the network, and how
these contributions are further distilled into knowledge, solu-
tions, creations. Through the framework of The Commons,
Stonemaps networks become a support for thinking and cre-
ating together – a collective sentience.
Scenarios of Intention
This section presents some possible scenarios of intentional
Stonemaps networks. A network is seeded by the purchase
of a stone with a chosen visual imprint. The purchaser can
be the one to set the Stonemaps’ first intention, or can leave
it to system chance. In either case, the purchaser must gift
the stone to another, thereby starting the Stonemaps chain of
events.
In every scenario, when a new recipient accepts the stone,
they scan it using their phone and the network passively logs
information about the location of the stone (GPS coordinates
or what3words). This is the location of the gift exchange and
the set of all exchange locations will form one basis for a
network visualization.
Scenario 1: Intention as Destination
I want to get somewhere! In this scenario the stone has an
intent to travel to a particular geographical location or per-
haps to be handed to a particular person. This intent may
or may not be explicitly stated and known to the members
of the network. In the case where the intent is not explicitly
stated, the stone reveals glimpses of its intent through nudges
towards its destination (“I want to travel far West of here but
still within this country” or “I’m looking for a singer from a
punk band”). The current holder of the stone has the respon-
sibility of finding someone who can propel the stone towards
its destination and to convince this person of the importance
of this mission. As the stone travels from hand to hand, the
network is charged with documenting its travels and adven-
tures. It will ask for a contribution from the new recipient in a
form that is dependent on the network’s intention and the way
the stone’s travels are to be documented. Perhaps the docu-
mentation is a picture of the location of exchange along with
a short story of why there is hope it will lead to the stone’s
desired destination. Perhaps it is strictly a soundscape of the
exchange location. Once the contribution is accepted by the
network, the stone gives its next prompt and moves along.
The existing members of the network have full access to the
documentation of the stone’s travels and can choose to remix
and synthesize the contributions, and give advice toward the
next contribution or gift recipient.
Scenario 2: Intention as Question
I want to know something! In this scenario the stone seeks
an answer to a question. The question can be initiated by the
purchaser of the stone, or by the network. Each new recip-
ient is briefed on the question by the stone gifter and can
see the last answer given. They can choose to enhance or
counter the previous answer or give a completely new an-
swer. In all cases, they are charged to take as much time as
they need. Constraints on the length of the answer, or the for-
mat of the answer may be attached to the request. Once the
contribution is submitted and approved by the network, the
stone prompts the current holder of the stone to find another
person who could contribute a valuable point of view on the
question at hand. As the stone collects answers to the ques-
tion, the existing network constituents can deepen the enquiry
by conversing on the different contributions, perhaps adding
relevant references, and synthesizing a multi-faceted and nu-
anced document. The network is ultimately responsible for
“calling” the question – deeming the enquiry finished and set-
ting a new intention for the stone.
Scenario 3: Intention as Co-Creation
Let’s make something! In this scenario the stone is asking
for contributions to a collaborative making project. This can
be an artwork such as a collage or film, a poem, or narrative.
It can also be collaborative design document for a new park,
say. Each new recipient of the stone is asked to contribute to
a particular aspect of the collaborative creation, or to give to-
wards a “wildcard” direction. They may not have a full view
of the creation so far until they are a full-fledged member of
the network. As with all previously described scenarios, the
contribution is first vetted by the network before prompting
the current recipient to give the stone to another. Once the
stone is gifted onward, the co-creation is visible to the new
member. In this scenario, as with the Question scenario, the
network members have a responsibility for managing the as-
sets collected by the stone’s travels. The contributions can
manually be composited towards a finished product, or be in-
put into a generative artwork that continues to grow as the
stone travels.
Scenario 4: Intention as Quest
Let’s find the gold! In this scenario, the stone prompts the
network towards ludic discovery of a virtual game world. The
stone’s intent may be set by game mechanics that involve spe-
cific geographic locations, similar to geocaching. When the
stone reaches specific locations, more of the game map is re-
vealed or assets are collected (health points, tools, etc.) and
the network constituents can make a decision about where the
next step they would like to take in the game. This slow game
is a combination of physical movement of the stone and goal-
setting by the virtual network.
Combining and Entangling
These scenarios can also be combined as sub-intentions to a
greater intention. For example, if the network wants to start
by talking to a sociologist before setting a question, it can
set a sub-goal of finding a sociologist and, once found, ask
them for an opinion on what aspects the question should tar-
get. In this way, the Stonemaps network interface supports
both exploration (going deeper with sub-enquiries) and syn-
thesis (resolving pending enquiries).
If two stones cross paths, they have the option of becoming
an entangled pair. The exchange is a mutual gift and the net-
works can choose to merge and share future intentions or to
work collaboratively with distinct goals. Or they can choose
to merely greet each other, mark the encounter, and continue
as before. If they choose to become entangled, the networks
continue growing on separate paths but share all information.
After an intention is satisfied or deemed inconclusive, the
next intention is agreed upon by the network and the stone’s
adventure continues. Over time the network builds a kind
of expertise, a way of manipulating the stone’s movement to
create value for the Commons. It attains a collective sentience
that can be depended upon.
Discussion
The purpose of describing the Stonemaps project in this con-
text is to enter into the discourse about new models of social
engagement that emphasize values of shared generated wis-
dom – what we have called collective sentience. The tension
between individualism/capitalism and The Commons is not
new but with new technologies we are seeing opportunities
to insert ways of resisting the push towards the enclosure of
knowledge and the design of interfaces that promote shallow
engagement and invisible manipulation. We are not claiming
that Stonemaps networks will be the best or even a successful
framework for a new model of engagement. However, it is a
mindful collaborative development of what we hope will be
Figure 5: Stone with abstract map. c
Hanif Janmohamed
an enchanting new way of being in blended physical and vir-
tual networks, one that will inform future efforts in this area
and attract like-minded individuals.
Implementation
The stones of the Stonemaps network have been constructed
and tested with various phones. The first visual designs for
the stones are maps, both real and fictional, to indicate the
stone’s impulse towards movement. Future designs may in-
clude more abstract representation, maybe tied to a particu-
lar network’s intended expertise such as a gaming stone (See
Fig. 5).
The implementation of the application layer that supports
the intentional network is in development. Because we want
to create an environment that operates outside of the surveil-
lance capitalism frame, we are looking to software tools
which not only safeguard user privacy but are in line with
The Commons ideals of putting the users in control of any
data accumulated on the platform. The Stonemaps network
can only be successful if the constituents know they control
the interface with others outside the network – they cannot
feel they are being watched or manipulated in any way. We
are currently looking at an Open Source solution from Oasis
Labs that is designed to support private and secure decentral-
ized applications, using blockchain technologies for data in-
tegrity. [25] Other open source third-party tools such as those
developed by Inrupt (a company founded by Sir Tim Berners-
Lee) are also being investigated as a way to store and control
access to personal information.
The application will be multi-platform and support social
media functions such as user accounts and profiles, and mech-
anisms for adding content to the network (posts, conversa-
tions), synthesizing new content from existing content (co-
creation), archiving, and management of resources. We will
develop the application in stages and test different scenarios
to inform the next steps and requirements.
One important aspect of the User Interface is that it support
the gifting process without excessive technological or cogni-
tive overhead. There should be some immediate visibility of
the Stonemaps network aggregate identity and intention with-
out any barriers beyond scanning the stone’s NFC tag (See
Fig. 6).
After a member’s initial encounter with the application, the
Figure 6: Mockup of Stonemaps application opening screen
showing the stone’s aggregate statistics. c
authors
design should support the principles of The Commons by pro-
viding tools and interfaces for:
conversations and consensus building;
content creation;
management and distribution of resources towards a sus-
tainable network;
documentation and archiving;
management of network intention and membership;
conflict resolution.
At the core of the implementation and the user interface
are the values of the Stonemaps network, first outlined in the
introduction: intimacy, trust, dynamism, curiosity, generos-
ity, creativity, responsibility, joy, collaboration, preciousness,
intentionality, and the gift.
Testing
For the first stage of testing we are designing a barebones ap-
plication to collect data on some example scenarios such as
the ones outlined above. We will release 5 sets of 5 stones,
each set being assigned a scenario with slightly different pa-
rameters of engagement. This phase will also include a short
survey suggested to the participant once they open an account
with the network, and periodically throughout the testing pe-
riod. They can refuse to fill out the survey without any ef-
fect on their ability to continue in the Stonemaps network.
We will monitor the stone’s movements for a set period of
time to study the effectiveness of the different scenarios on
the stone’s momentum. This monitoring will be strictly lim-
ited to the stone’s range and frequency of movements. Any
additional monitoring and feedback will be voluntarily con-
tributed by the network constituents.
Sustainability
There are two aspects of sustainability that are pertinent to the
Stonemaps network: its ability to keep the stone in movement
and the members engaged in conversation; and its ability to
generate revenue to support the maintenance of the platform
and the network’s greater goals if these require resources.
We have discussed some motivational elements to keep the
stone in motion in previous sections and we expect to further
refine these as we receive the results of the first test scenarios.
Some of the motivation will come from the way in which the
constituents of the network arrange themselves but successful
strategies will also have to be supported by an apt interface.
Financial sustainability is likely to be achieved through
many different means. Initial project development funding is
envisioned through project development grants, investment,
and crowdfunding. Seed revenues originate from the direct
sale of stones. Subscription models would further sustain the
basic operation of the platform, and stone networks would be
able to attract donations from its growing membership. Other
revenue sources could come from the provision of services
especially as the networks gains some proficiency and doc-
umented knowledge. For example, a network could be val-
ued for its diversity across different demographics, and could
make a point of maintaining this as a basic component of all
its intentions. This diversity, in turn, could make it valuable
to those who need information from a diverse group. In this
situation, the network could offer a polling service, or a set
of user-derived prediction data. In a more general case, the
expertise of a network can be advertised and instrumental-
ized to generate revenue. The selling of users’ demographic,
geo-location and behavioural data has been amply proven as
a lucrative business model. Typically, this value generation
has bypassed the data generators themselves. We are inter-
ested in exploring ways to evolve this practice, to preserve the
sovereignty of user data, provide transparency and consent
regarding data usage, and reward users directly and commen-
surately through support of network projects and initiatives.
If the network generates a surplus of revenue, the members
can choose to direct the funds towards external projects that
they find valuable, or fund new projects spearheaded by its
members. We envision Stonemaps acting as a philanthropic
venture, supported by a variety of sources and enabled by
distributed ledger functions.
Conclusion
Stonemaps are slow media. They traverse personal connec-
tions to create thoughtful, real-world networks built along in-
visible currents of affinity. Stonemaps is both a social experi-
ment and a distributed art project – online social media that is
deeply connected to the physical world through hand-to-hand
connections. Stonemaps are emergent networks – creating
new ripples of rich connection, shared experience, meaning,
and value as the project unfolds.
We have presented the foundational elements for the de-
sign of Stonemaps. Many of these elements, though based
on careful research on gifting and social networks, are still at
the speculative stage. An iterative design process will con-
tinue to respond to the emerging dynamics of the launched
stones. Initial prototypes show the potential of delightful en-
gagements reminiscent of the first hopeful dips into social
media. It is our hope that Stonemaps and their intentions
contribute to the design of a more democratic social media
space.
Acknowledgments
We gratefully acknowledge that this research is supported in
part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Re-
search Council, the National Research Council’s Industrial
Research Assistance Program, and Emily Carr University of
Art + Design.
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Author Biographies
Hanif Janmohamed Hanif Janmohamed is an artist and de-
signer based in Vancouver, Canada. He received his Mas-
ters in Industrial Design, with distinction from the Domus
Academy in Milan. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, of Indian extrac-
tion, African roots and a western experience, his current artis-
tic practice centers around Geographies of the Mind. His art
and design works have been exhibited at venues such as The
Design Museum, London, MOCA-LA; Milan Triennale; the
Vitra Museum and The National Building Museum among
others. Janmohamed is the principal of Vanilla Five Creative
Inc. a creative company.
Maria Lantin is the Director of the Basically Good Media
Lab at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She has a deep
interest in space and movement both physical and metaphor-
ical, and this is woven through her work in immersive media
and interaction. She takes pleasure in scanning the technolog-
ical horizon for trends in human fascination – what is grab-
bing our attention and why. Formative experiences include
a BSc and PhD in Computing Science (Dalhousie University
and Simon Fraser University), a wonderful stint at Mainframe
Entertainment working on the first ever stereoscopic anima-
tion for the IMAX screen (it never made it to the screen but
it was amazing), three fantastic years at the ground-breaking
Banff New Media Institute’s Advanced Art and Technology
(A.R.T) labs, and now heading into thirteen years at Emily
Carr University.
Alex Hass is a multi-disciplinary artist, designer and in-
structor. Her creative practice investigates and adopts slow
approaches to working with technology and communication.
Core to her practice is expressing and experiencing the rich-
ness of nature. Her projects fold nature into a conversation
with technology and lead to uncovering aspects of our chang-
ing humanness. Her design practice encompasses art direc-
tion, brand + book design as well as image creation. Alex
studied illustration and art direction at the Alberta College of
Art and Design, received her bachelor’s degree in visual com-
munication from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Uni-
versity and her Masters in Applied Art, Media stream from
Emily Carr University. She has taught various aspects of de-
sign at ECU, SFU and BCIT for the last twenty years.
Renrong Guo is a visual designer and artist, pursuing a
master’s degree in design at Emily Carr University of Art +
Design. Their current design practice investigates the com-
munication of moments and feelings through still and mo-
tion graphics. They studied user-centered design and received
their bachelor’s degree from the EPII program at the School
of Design, Jiangnan University.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Book
In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as theeffect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events. Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy.
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The governance of natural resources used by many individuals in common is an issue of increasing concern to policy analysts. Both state control and privatization of resources have been advocated, but neither the state nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving common pool resource problems. After critiquing the foundations of policy analysis as applied to natural resources, Elinor Ostrom here provides a unique body of empirical data to explore conditions under which common pool resource problems have been satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily solved. Dr Ostrom uses institutional analysis to explore different ways - both successful and unsuccessful - of governing the commons. In contrast to the proposition of the 'tragedy of the commons' argument, common pool problems sometimes are solved by voluntary organizations rather than by a coercive state. Among the cases considered are communal tenure in meadows and forests, irrigation communities and other water rights, and fisheries.
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The authors propose that a tradeoff between network diversity and communications bandwidth regulates the degree to which social networks deliver non-redundant information to actors in brokerage positions. As the structural diversity of a network increases, the bandwidth of the communication channels in that network decrease, creating countervailing effects on the receipt of novel information. This tradeoff occurs because more diverse networks, presumed to provide more information novelty, typically contain weaker ties across which less novel information flows due to limited interaction. Information advantages to brokerage positions then depend on (a) whether the information overlap among alters is small enough to justify bridging structural holes, (b) whether the size of the topic space known to alters is large enough to consistently provide novelty, and (c) whether the knowledge stock of alters refreshes enough over time to justify updating what was previously known. The authors test these arguments by combining social network and performance data with direct observation of the information content flowing through email at a medium sized executive recruiting firm. They find that brokers with bridging ties to disparate parts of a social network can have disadvantaged access to novel information because their lower bandwidth communication curbs the total volume of novelty they receive. These analyses unpack the mechanisms that enable information advantages in networks and serve as ‘proof-of-concept’ for using email content data to analyze relationships among information flows, networks and social capital.
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Obra que estudia cómo las nuevas tecnologías de comunicación y las redes sociales que a través de ellas se han generado dan soporte a una nueva forma de establecer relaciones entre las personas y, por lo tanto, de nuevas formas de soledad.
The Measured Life. MIT Technology Review
  • Emily Singer
Emily Singer. The Measured Life. MIT Technology Review, 2011(7), July 2011.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Signal
  • Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Signal, October 2017.
The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
  • Nicholas Carr
Nicholas Carr. The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains. WW Norton, New York, reprint edition edition, June 2011.
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
  • Adam Alter
Adam Alter. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Press, New York, March 2017.