NEW WORK: Tanglr

en•tan•gle
/en’taNGgƏl/

VERB
1. Cause to become twisted together with or caught in.
2. Involve someone in difficulties or complicated circumstances.


Tan•glr
/taNGglƏr/

NOUN
1. An extension for Google Chrome which, when activated, anonymously links you with another person. When you browse, your partner is taken to the same urls. Likewise, when your partner browses, your browser changes to what they’re seeing. The two of you have to work it out together.


SYNONYMS
data privacy, quantum mechanics, relation in time, perfect lovers



Several forces colluded recently to get me to make work that functions online. It’s been been research about network surveillance I’ve been doing at Brown. It’s also been the unavoidable revelance of the gestures we make in front of a machine all day to my larger project about the construction of habit. And it’s been inspiration from my research group partners at RISD, particularly Elisa Giardina Papa, and our discussions about the public sphere.

After the fact, I realized that Eyebeamer Jonas Lund has been doing a lot in this space, so he’s retroactive inspiration. Jonas’s Public Access Me is an extension for Chrome that tracks his browser use and streams it online, as a kind of radical transparency. Which is great, but I was attracted to the idea of sharing not with the world, but with a specific, yet anonymous, individual. It’s meant as a bit of an inversion of the fact that we’re sharing everything we do online with Google and our ISPs, by making it personal. And by making it mutual, browsing becomes an intimate, communicative act. Like Chatroulette maybe, but we’re not seeing images, we’re sharing selves and exploring boundaries simply by the way we move through urls.

The backend to the extension is Python and Tornado — it works over websockets. (Note: I tried Heroku as a host, turns out they dont support websockets, so this is ec2).

Code is open source (GPL) on GitHub, where I’m beginning to migrate my projects.