Feb. 19, 2015 | By Simon

As various channels of social media continue to grow in popularity, the ability to “hold onto” pieces of data - or conversations - becomes an interesting topic of debate.  What is the data representing and ultimately, is it worth holding onto in a world where trending hashtags are a dime a dozen?  If we could hold onto conversations such as those on Twitter, in what form would they come in if they existed in the real world rather than in ones and zeros on your smartphone screen?

Brendan Dawes, a UK-based designer who likes to “cut things up then splice them together in different ways to make new things” in multiple mediums including those in digital, analog or any combination of the two, has recently explored this concept in a project for Twitter France.

The project - which went by the name Doris Le Bot - was focused on creating unique digital creatures based on real-time tweets and properties of Twitter users’ profiles over an event that occurred on January 27th of 2015.  

To participate in the event, those in attendance could tweet to @dorislebot and watch as their own personalized creature came to life and interacted with other creatures that represented others in attendance at the event.  

To determine the creature’s size, an algorithm tracked how many favorites a user’s profile had received over time while the shape of the creature’s body was determined from a Superformula algorithm.  As for what determined the creature’s color, the algorithm mapped how many years the user has been using the platform while “power users” were given multiple stripes.  For users who were following more profiles than they had followers of their own, their antennas and eyeball size were affected by the difference.  For anybody with more than 5,000 followers total, a unique jagged tail was used to separate them from the other users.

Once the event culminated, Dawes 3D printed a select few of the creatures on-location to give away as ‘souvenirs’ similar to how you might expect to take home a small Statue of Liberty figurine after visiting the iconic New York landmark.  

While the 3D prints done for the Doris Le Bot event were limited to those at the event, Dawes thinks there is a lot of potential for turning all kinds of virtual data into three-dimensional forms using 3D printers.

“By using 3D printing coupled with bespoke software it’s now possible to create such “souvenirs” to a highly detailed personal level and not just around events or time.,” said Dawes in an interview with Forbes.  

“They could represent for example your Fitbit progress for a year; imagine having this thing sat on your desk or on your shelf, ready to spark conversations about how you’ve been doing in your new exercise regime, or maybe it’s just a personal reminder to yourself of what you’ve achieved so far – a reminder that is always present, sat in a physical space rather than a digital one, yet it’s born from digital data.”

When considering this, it’s easy to see just how far this concept can go: with the rise of the Quantified Self and the sensors responsible for tracking data becoming more invisible, it could be possible for nearly everything to be manifested in 3D for both explanatory purposes as well as personal mementos.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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