DeskSwap (2001)

DeskSwap is a multi-user screensaver that swaps images of the user's desktop with others using the screensaver. When the user stops using their computer, DeskSwap starts as a normal screensaver. It quickly takes a snapshot of the user's screen and uploads it to the DeskSwap server.

Full Description

DeskSwap is a multi-user screensaver that swaps images of the user's desktop with others using the screensaver. When the user stops using their computer, DeskSwap starts as a normal screensaver. It quickly takes a snapshot of the user's screen and uploads it to the DeskSwap server.

Yet since screensavers only become active during periods of inactivity, DeskSwap catches candid images of the user's desktop. DeskSwap has two modes for swapping desktops. Mode one is a direct "peer to peer" connection where two users exchange desktops only with each other. In this mode the two users are aware that they are simultaneously exchanging images with each other. The second mode is a "round robin" connection where several users will exchange their images as a group, cycling through desktops one after another. In this mode users are not exchanging images directly, rather they exchange as a group.

The computer desktop is a confused zone of ownership and identification. While the average desktop is dotted with personal files, folders, and background images, it is still a space that resists personalization. Because the desktop is tied to the "desktop metaphor" all personalization or modification takes place within certain guidelines. These guidelines make sure that all desktops have a similar look. Thus, most computer users will feel a certain amount of familiarity with other user's desktops.

Yet this sense of familiarity is also skewed. When the user's desktop is replaced by another, the shift is at once subtle and extreme. The user is immediately aware of what they are looking at. They understand the interface at an intuitive level. However there is another level that becomes significant to the user, the level of voyeurism.

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