The triumphal march of Web2.0 in the last two years, with services like Flickr, YouTube and MySpace, has led to a new internet boom. After the dotcom bubble burst on the stock exchange in 2000, financial backers (VCs) are now once again investing in so-called startups – small, potentially successful internet companies such as YouTube or Myspace – in the hope of reaping big returns. The number of new web services is enormous and growing daily, so that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain an overview of them all. Some successful services have already been copied, varied and combined, or in rare cases completely new services and business models are being developed.
The rapidly hackneyed term Web2.0 has recently been replaced in internet circles by the name “”social web / social software”. “Social“ because connecting users to each other plays a central role in the new internet. All these services require users to establish a profile with name, photo and all manner of personal information. Users produce their own networks through lists of friends and buddies in order to get noticed and to profit from the vast flow of information. According to how active users are and which services they use, ever-increasing amounts of details of everyday private life are made public. In contrast to the normal urban restraint in everyday life in public places such as supermarkets and cafés, in the network the private lives of a wide range of people are revealed, sometimes with elaborate reports of the previous night’s party. The new services present great potential benefits for the user, however the extensive transparency poses many questions. Users in many places must first consciously learn how best to use these services.
Since most social web platforms are not cross-linked with each other, it is difficult to follow which service and under which name a friend or acquaintance is registered. In the future identification platforms such as OpenID will attempt to provide help for this problem. At present, however, users still have to build a new network of friends on each separate service. In order to make life easier, smart users publish their membership as a list of icons of the corresponding services on their website or blog.
The T-shirt “Are you social?“ takes up this phenomenon and shows a list of the best-known social web services (as of 08/2007) with their icons and colours. The owner of the T-shirt is expected to mark the services he uses with a pen and to wear it in public. What happens when users start wearing their network identities openly in public? What does identity mean in the age of Web2.0? Where is this still growing mass of webservices leading to?
The project “Are you social?” is a cooperation of Aram Bartholl ( concept ) and Markus Angermeier a.k.a. Kosmar ( micro button design und selection of web services ).
The project “Are you social?” has been shown first time and was for sale at the Second City shop at
Ars Electronica 2007.
Download: All Micro Buttons at microbuttons.wordpress.com
Aram Bartholl 2007