Tired of your mobile phone dictating your daily routine? Try Antinormalizer!
July 14th, 2007

Some theories about the relationship between people and their environments are emphasizing the influence of the environment on people’s behavior, while others are underlining the people’s ability to change the environment they live in. Of course, the truth must be somewhere in the middle and that’s why the third category of synergistic theories, based on a holistic approach, are saying that the influences and the changing processes are mutual.

Also, when it comes to urban environments, saturated with modern architecture, large road belts, high tech gadgetry, and hot communication webs spreading from all directions, the worried conservative views about the impact of such an environment on human existence have been pondered from the beginning by progressive approaches.

In the last line of thought, it’s been said that cell phones are scripting our behavior. As François Bar let us know, Brett Stalbaum and Derek Lomas, both from UC San Diego, developed a creative approach of the relationship between people and their cell phones. They start from a simple question: why not use mobiles to script already programmed social spaces and behaviors? Putting together ideas and resources of the two classes they’re running at the University (Derek’s Social Architectures and Brett’s Advanced Computer Programming in Art), they came up with Antinormalizer?

“What’s Antinormalizer?” you’ll ask. It’s basically a “hot spots” or location media program. A GPS system is aware of the mobile owner’s location and triggers an audio file to be played at that particular location. Derek scripted a number of activities delivered by these audios for people to perform with the goal of changing the “social lubrication” in a certain area, modify the normal social script in order to initiate interesting behaviors.

With Antinormalizer people play a game: instead of doing the normal stuff (like picking up the phone and simply talking to the other person), people are told to do something “outrageous,” so out of the ordinary, while their friends are taking pictures of that abnormal behavior. The best picture wins the game. The range of the abnormal behaviors can vary from reading your book while laid down on a parking spot, to playing some jungle rhythms as loud as you can, using paint bucket bottoms. If you don’t find that challenging enough, you can always clime a ten foot statue in the campus or talk to your friend across the street while you’re both sitting in a trashcan.

So, stay normal or go for Antinormalizer. The choice is yours!

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