Pattern-finding and Random Delight
It’s well-documented that we are in an age of unsurpassed information and data. Luckily, technology has not only created the swirling mess, it has also made sense of it, resulting in everything from Google Earth to Newsmap. Dynamic duo Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar have emerged as thought leaders in the field, and making a splash with their “We Feel Fine” project (pictured above left), which aggregates and maps how the blogosphere is “feeling” at any one time.
Given the rising importance of “pattern-finding,” I was initially surprised when my friend Paul Ratliff shared with me the concept of “Random Delight.” His theory is that there is a counter trend to pattern-finding — technology is also helping to push completely arbitrary bits of information that we seem to enjoy on a playful and instinctive level. Great examples are: the Beacon project, that projects real-time websearch terms on the wall; Urban Spoon’s iPhone restaurant finder application, which has a “slot machine” function (pictured above right) that selects a restaurant based on how hard you shake your phone.
The more I thought about it, the more it makes perfect sense. Pattern-finding helps to feed our desire for logic and order, while randomness feeds the side that delights in human ingenuity, deviations, and providence. We turn to technology to do exactly what we want… can we now trust technology to do exactly what we least expect? –Kat