Term Project Proposal: Hyperphotos

I'm hoping to take the text out of hypertext. I beg for your feedback to help me direct this project better, but I'm excited by the possibilities. Basically, my project will be some sort of photographic image-map hypertext. Needless to say, that's under the creative project category rather than the critical project.

What's an image map?
You've seen them around, even if you don't recognized them by name. This map of new york is an example. Basically, an image is broken up into lots of little pieces, and each piece links to a different page.

In the map of New York example, the fact that it's a county map makes the borders between segments obvious. They can also be invisible. This difference is equivalent to that between blue&underlined links and links that look like regular text, as in afternoon. Unlike the NY map, my image map would be photographic. For example, a photo of my dorm room right now might actually be an image map. I could click on the Springsteen poster, and that would yield one link. Or I could click on my bed and that would yield another. Or my backpack and that, another. And so on, to the point where nearly everything is clickable. All of the possible pages that yield are image maps themselves, with the same setup. The hypertext quality of this webbed mapping should be clear at this point. Eventually loops would close on themselves, just as they do on the web, or on Wikipedia, or in afternoon.

That's the technology of the project. My problem is that I haven't finalized how I'm going to use it. One possibility would be to try to make the photographic hypertext a narrative. I think this would be fascinating, and it would undoubtedly have the same restrictions and frustrations as afternoon as a narrative (and this would partially be the point). Another option is not to bother with narrative, but rather have a more expository web of photos that relate to each other somehow. For example, clicking on my school backpack in the photo of my dorm room would lead to a photo map of a backpacking trip.

At first I figured I would shoot the photos specifically for this project. But maybe the ultimate new media twist would be to lift the photos from people's Facebooks, MySpaces, and Flickr accounts, turn them into image maps, and make the web out of these to show just how interconnected we all are. Would anybody object to the copyright questionability of this?

What do y'all think? Thanks!

I like the idea of mapping out pictures of your life and seeing what comes of it. I would just warn you not to go overboard with the linkage. If you spend too much time making as many links as you can think of, you might lose purpose, flow, or style.

I think its perfectly legit to jack the facebook/myspace/flikr photos as long as you give credit for them and they are not degrading. I think when people post stuff like that they hope it gets displayed as much as possible.

Thanks for the advice. You bring up a good point on the dangers of overlinkage. I could intentionally overlink, thus illustrating why the web isn't and shouldn't be a true hypertext, or I could moderately link, maintaining "purpose," and not be able to call myself a hypertext. Any suggestions? Maybe I'll just wait and feel it out as I go.

Sounds very cool. I'm thinking of doing something kinda sorta related for my own final project, and I did think about whether I wanted to try and diffuse the sense of authorship and what you might call the "point" or "message" of the piece, or to leave it all centered around a single feeling/idea or author. I think it is more postmodern and new media-ish to make it as un-centered as one can, in all possible ways, but I doubt anyone would fault you for just doing an image-map narrative that you wrote. Also you would have the benefit of being able to make it all a very pleasant aesthetic experience as well, which is always appreciated in art. It would be really cool to set up a 4-chan /b/ style collaborative and open to the world image linking system, not to mention being _so_ new media (haha), but that's a lot of work and you'd have to get people to participate. Anyway I'm really excited to play with it once its done no matter what it turns out like. Out of curiosity, what particular articles are you seeing as being relevant to the project? Just general new media/hypertext theory stuff?

...like that idea of photos of your room. It all depends on what interest you the most. For instance if your room is an extension of your own creativity, then you could link to things that have inspired you or links to who or what those things are. If your interest was Pomona, you could link to written experiences in certain parts of the campus. Either way, i think this project has a lot of potential!

I really like the sound of this project. A student in my Writing Machines class last semester said that the main problem with hypertext was that there was usually too much text, and not enough hyper; this sounds like it might help to rectify that. What I'm curious about, though, is the mechanics of the thing. Do you know technically speaking how you're going to build this? Are you going to host it in your ITS web space? How will you integrate technologies like Flickr into your pages? I'll very much look forward to seeing how this develops...

I expect it will be on ITS userspace, yes. If I have any trouble with that I'll just use some reliable rented server space of my own. If I do use photos from Flickr, etc, I will host the image on the userspace and include a text link at the bottom of the page to its Flickr counterpart to avoid taking credit for the work of others. But that way if the photo moves or is taken off of Flickr, my project doesn't collapse on itself.

Very interesting indeed. In my case, I think it would be rather enjoyable if you were to add a narrative. In this narrative you can either go personal, or make up a story as you go along with the photographs; either one would be creative, and would add an "UMPH" per se to your already extremely cool project.

"Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That's all it was: just curiosity." -Jim Morrison, 1969.