“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is a bloody brilliant book written by Philip K Dick in 1960-something. I have written about it before, but as certain themes in it are rather relevant to my project, I’m going to reflect on it a wee bit more.
Of particular interest here is a certain artefact in book called the “empathy box”. It is a contraption used by all the humans the story to connect with one another in a sort of quasi-religious interplanetary state of shared empathy. It is a device which allows the disconnected human race of the novel to plug themselves into a collective consciousness, and feel human.
Following on from my earlier thoughts about Twitter as a (admittedly crude) representation of a collective consciousness, I have been thinking of trying to build a sort of empathy box that uses Twitter as its motor, so to speak.
There have been projects before where people have been able to determine a global or national mood based on collating loads of tweets and analysing certain words. So I know this is possible. I then have to find a way to make someone experience that mood physically or mentally – ways of machines replicating pleasure, pain, hope, disappointment, despair… Its a tricky one.
I like the idea of being able to select whether you choose to empathise with the global twitter mood, or rather explore other countries and compare the sensations. The mood may be hopeful in the UK (unlikely, i know), but terrible in Iran. Being able to connect with other places and networks in this way would be really interesting.
So another thing for me to be working on.