RHIZOME LAUNCHES "STARRYNIGHT"
New interface allows for visual browsing.
Each time someone reads an article on the RHIZOME web site
<www.rhizome.org>, a dim star appears on a black web page. When an
article gets read again, the corresponding star gets a bit brighter.
Over time, the web page comes to resemble a starry night sky, with
bright stars and dim stars corresponding to more popular and less
STARRYNIGHT links each star to the article it represents, and connects
related stars into visible constellations. "STARRYNIGHT represents a
totally new way of visualizing and browsing databased information," said
RHIZOME Founder and Creative Director Mark Tribe.
STARRYNIGHT currently has over 750 stars, and is growing quickly.
Thousands of web surfers have helped calibrate the intensities of these
stars simply by reading texts at RHIZOME and clicking on stars on
STARRYNIGHT. You can create a new star by sending a text to
<firstname.lastname@example.org>. And by using STARRYNIGHT, you increase the
brightness of the stars corresponding to the texts you read, leaving a
visible trace of your activity (intensities are updated daily, so
results are not immediate).
STARRYNIGHT depends on two pieces of original software: a set of Perl
scripts that sort texts by keyword and record their individual hits, and
a Java applet that filters this information to draw stars and
constellations. "The STARRYNIGHT browser is the beginning of a new,
community-oriented software innitiative at RHIZOME," says RHIZOME
Technical Director Alex Galloway. "We sent out a call for Java
programmers, and several RHIZOME subscribers agreed to collaborate on
the project. This represents a move to remain on the edge of new
technology, while staying true to our community focus."
STARRYNIGHT is both a mirror and a map. On the one hand, it offers a
reflection of the RHIZOME community's reading habits. It is up to you to
decide whether to click on a bright, popular star, or a dim one that
fewer people have read. On the other hand, it acts as a navigational
interface by connecting similar stars/texts into constellations
regardless of their brightness. "Finally, a map that can rightfully be
mistaken for the territory!" writes David A. Ross, SFMOMA Director, on
the new STARRYNIGHT interface.
STARRYNIGHT is also an artifact and an agent of global networking. It is
produced by the contributions and activities of an online community, and
it enables members of the community to see the results in abstract and
metaphorical terms: as you surf the site, your click-trail helps
illuminate the night sky.
As interface art, STARRYNIGHT explores several new possibilities offered
by the internet: global artistic collaboration, real-time collection and
filtering of information using automated software, the integration of
user-generated data such as web site hits, and the dissolution of