The Psychic Hive Mind Fortune Teller is designed to be used at events where people are gathered and discussing online via Twitter. When people interact with the Fortune Teller, it gives them insights into the live Twitter conversations happening around them.
It is really a type of automoton, but one that can be tuned into the specific conversation of the event at which it is present. It just needs to be set up to target the event, then it will serve up real-time reflections automatically, based on the digital conversation happening around it. In effect, it reads the collective mind of the event, hence why it's called the Psychic Hive-Mind Fortune Teller. It can easily be programmed using simple admin settings that determine what it listens to on Twitter. These can be set remotely using a Google spreadsheet as a web database.
Here it is in action at museum-technology conference "MuseumNext", in May 2013, in Amsterdam.
This 47 second clip shows what an event-goer experiences when they come across the Psychic Fortune Teller - generally bafflement!
To have their fortune told, a person interacting with it just has to enter their twitter @username and press a physical button. The Fortune Teller's Twitter-app brain then reads tweets harvested in real time and dissects them into their component parts of usernames, hashtags, urls and other general words. It then rebuilds them with randomised sentence construction to generate rather leftfield recombinations. Finally it sends a tweet containing a summary of the fortune reading to the person's twitter account.
The Fortune Teller uses the irrestible appeal of freaky fairground things and plugs in the social web, piggybacking on some of the many data connections that we trace in our digital lives.
In using digital social media, aspects of our communal connections are translated into and back from data. The Fortune Teller uses this to create a new physical re-manifestation of our digital interactions. It ponders what it means to be part of a large-scale collective 'hive' conversation, how digital social media creates random and unexpected insights and connections with people clustered around interest, and reflects on the meaning of sharing ideas on the web.
But mainly it's just a little bit random :)
How it works
The automaton is tuned to an event discussion by being logged into Twitter. It is programmed to harvest tweets by conducting one of three searches. Usually this is a #hashtag search, but it can be set up to do a @username search or just a straight keyword search. It then extracts the basic content in four types
- The usernames of people who have sent the tweets being harvested
- Hashtags used in the discussion
- URLs sent round
- Finally a big list of all the words people have used to express themselves.
It then constructs random fortune readings using these terms, that it speaks to the visitor, and then tweets them a summary.
Here are some other baffled looking people!