Future Directions

The mural, the mandala, and the clock have come to represent what I see as a burgeoning design genre: that of cultural visualization, which is to say, the real time visualization of the dynamic performance of culture over time, as manifested by the Web. This performance is two fold. On the one hand it is comprised of the stream of new content that is uploaded to the Web on a constant basis, and on the other, the almost immediate filtering whereby each of us, through our collective participation, decide which content is seen and remembered, and which is buried and forgotten. While there is nothing wholly new about thinking of the Web in this way, there is currently a lack of forms, formats, and interfaces which allow us to consume this performance in ways that highlight its dynamic, temporal nature, as well as its rich cultural character and implications.
To successfully fill this void is to bring a great deal to the table, for reasons not the least of which include the simple enrichment of our web experience. To create performative visualizations of the Web which become themselves part of the collective cultural experience, at once things of cultural relevance and beauty while also points of access to other such things, is a meaningful endeavor. Furthermore, to equip users of the web with the tools to create custom visualizations of their own, around the cultures and content with which each most closely identifies, is to empower a new genre of making and remixing, one which anchors each of us to a shared time in culture while embracing the diversity of stories, viewpoints, and values that one moment in time encapsulates. I would like to have a clock on the wall which tells my own personalized version of time, but I would also like to juxtapose my version with those of others in order to get a different angle on the same shared moment. To be able to watch different corners of our culture develop alongside each other, in real time, would, I think, be a fascinating and beautiful experience.
On a more pragmatic level, cultural visualizations could have serious strategic relevance for those constantly looking to tap into or create the next cultural zeitgeist. The ability to watch culture as it happens, not through abstracted trend reports, but through the very fabric of culture, complete with all the contextual nuance and meaning that comes with it, would prove incredibly valuable to those entities for which a manipulation of cultural nuance and meaning is the very trade they ply. And because they are real time, cultural visualizations provide diagnostic possibilities for assessing the success or failure of any attempt to infiltrate culture and make it sway one way or another. This underscores a relatively new way of thinking about online marketing: an attempt to perform the Web itself, for if the Web is a performance of culture, and if we have the tools to watch and understand that performance as it happens, then we find ourselves in a situation which affords us the ability to manipulate that performance, or, in a sense, make the performance our own. In this scenario, the Web becomes a hotly contested stage around which many well equipped and intensely motivated entities push and shove, each attempting to secure as much time in the limelight as possible. Such posturing on the part of companies, governments, and individuals may become its own form of entertainment, as battles between them unfold in real time before the very eyes of the public they content for.

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