Andrew Ellis, MFA ’11


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Name: Andrew Ellis

Graduation: 2011

Program: MFA

In this project I was in the process of learning how to map a concept in time and space using just the concept of: You Are Here. I built a prototype for a social network using Google Maps and Street View. The goal was to connect users by giving them the ability to trade files as one would do in peer to peer file sharing and to gain connections like in Facebook.

By using the “small yellow man” above the zoom in tool on Google Maps, a user can access other ‘Google Maps profiles’ and trade their music, movies etc. with anyone else who has a profile while in the Street View. The advantage over p2p file sharing or social networking is that it has an element of narrative to it. One can wander the streets of Boston or Moscow and not search but find new connections and files as one would do while window shopping.

Some early influences while living in New York and Paris years ago were Guy Debord and the dérive, which is a psychogeographical drift. I hadn’t seen their relevance so clearly in my work prior to this project but the You Are Here concept pulled these inspirations to the surface. The “small yellow man” on Google Maps seemed to give a Google Maps user the ability to drift through urban landscapes. I took this idea and simply added social networking and file sharing to further enhance the experience of the virtual dérive.

Keywords: Facebook, Guy Debord, communication, community, dérive, experience, interactive communication, mapping, psychogeography, social networking