We usepublicly available embedded GPS information in Twitter updates to track thelocations of user posts and make photographs to mark the location in the realworld. Each of these photographs is taken on the site of the update and pairedwith the originating text. Our act of making a photograph anchors andmemorializes the ephemeral online data in the real world and also probes theexpectations of privacy surrounding social networks.

Twitterestimates there are over 550 million tweets daily, creating a new level ofdigital noise. Clive Thompson uses the term ambient awareness to describe thisincessant online contact in the New York Times Magazine article, “Brave NewWorld of Digital Intimacy.” According to Thompson, “It is. . . very much likebeing physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the littlethings he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner ofyour eye.” Our collaborative work is a means for situating this virtualcommunication in the physical realm. We imagine ourselves as virtual flâneurs,ethnographers of the Internet, exploring cities 140 characters at a timethrough the lives of others.

Using Format