2010, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Beginning

Social networking is a fundamental part of our existence. These networks can consist of deeply personal relationships to casual encounters to just being in proximity of others for a similar reason. With the introduction of the internet, social networks have evolved and the way we interact has changed. There are a plethora of different networks on the internet and in the physical world existing to fulfill different purposes.

The Research

Through research on social networks, some key concepts were gleaned. The most common answer among respondents was a concern about privacy online. Online social networks are accessed multiple times per day or are always connected; the most used being online personal profile and professional sites. Accepted professional communication methods are face-to-face interaction, telephone and e-mail while casual communication consisted of text messaging, contacting through Facebook or some other website, phone, e-mail, instant message and face-to-face interaction. Face-to-face interaction is considered highly important, yet most use text messaging as their main method of communication.

The Question

Privacy is the number one concern among people who use social networks, but why? With the many networks we are part of we freely divulge personal information publicly to gain access and to add value. This information as well as other gathered information about you is already out there and easily accessed by anyone, so why are we so concerned about preventing something that already exists? Why not use it?

The Observation

Users can be seen hiding away in their own worlds listening to music, fiddling with their phones or playing a video game. Technology has made our world much more connected; however, at the same time we are becoming more secluded and isolated. We both seek out this isolation and experience it as an unintentional by-product of our transition into a reliance on virtual interaction. While we detach from the outside world, becoming more private to those around us, our online personas and profiles expose a great deal more. Intimate details about an individual is available at ones fingertips, freely offered up by this person as currency in exchange for a service. Never before has all the knowledge of human beings been available for everyone at any time, our mobile devices are quickly becoming an extension of our own minds and abilities.

The Enlightenment

People walk through life, passing tens of thousands of people in a year but never interacting with them. Our only social links are those that we choose to make, or that are conveniently around us. The gene pool of social perspective is extremely shallow, made that way by our own inhibitions and preconceptions. We selectively limit our interactions with other people and ideas to those that we feel comfortable with, no matter how poor of a choice that might be. Sitting on the bus alone, most people will choose to maintain within their own world, refusing to learn about the fellow rider next to them. They could meet every day for years and never know one another. Nevertheless, people seem to have a rabid curiosity about the lives of others, as evidenced in the tabloids and newspapers. Given the chance, our voyeuristic side is incredibly strong. Sitting in a crowded bus or train, we strain to secretly listen into the conversation of the ones next to us. Therefore, the question stands; how can technology address these issues, our selective, ignorant isolation and our intense interest in the voyeur; our yearning for more social interactions and our attempts to shield ourselves from those around us.

This is the tragedy of our modern society, we are becoming more connected and informed yet at the same time ignorant and shut off from the real world.

How can we continue progress and reintroduce the physical world into our lives?


The Answer

With Creepimity, we strip away our sense of privacy, to turn it on end and learn how we can become a more connected and intelligent society. Informal interaction and the invisible barrier of anonymity tends to lubricate the gears of social interaction and while we might not walk up to a random person, with nothing to talk about, the hesitation is lessened when interacting online. Our online profiles are a database available to the world, one that can be used to increase our conscious awareness of those around us. The person next to you on the bus, or across the room at a cafe would no longer be a stranger, someone to be avoided, but can now be seen as a potential source of new information and enlightenment.
Creepimity detects the signals from others within the vicinity and alerts you to their presence while also alerting them to yours. Unlike Foursquare, Creepimity is automatic, real-time, and does not rely on a fixed location, allowing those traveling to and from a location to browse those within their proximity. Once the program detects the presence of others, the aggregated data is made available, a brief profile of the individual; access to photos, their recent whereabouts, and a contact button that would allow you to semi anonymously make contact. One feature could be within the alert, where when you access their profile the person on the other end is informed that they are being checked out and given the option to access yours. They can then rate you and leave comments for others to read. If you appear to be using the system for nefarious reasons the system would reflect this and others in the Creepimity network would be alerted about your presence. The comments and rating system would also reveal users who are “creepy”. There will be no private mode, however, as this would compromise the integrity of the program.

The End?

The juxtaposition of privacy and exposure is the core of the Creepimity concept. As we become more isolated we also become more connected. Creepimity is a facilitator of this isolation as well as a bridge to promote real world connectivity.
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