NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program
The jury were impressed with the premise of the project, and how the student responded to his brief. The project is a comment on the potential of crowdsourced image metadata and on ‘ambient’ human work that supports the digital economy. The jury members also enjoyed the humor of what it actually does and how it was presented. Overall, the descriptive camera is beautifully positioned as a simple provocative product.
The Descriptive Camera works a lot like a regular camera—point it at subject and press the shutter button to capture the scene. However, instead of producing an image, this prototype uses crowd sourcing to output a text description of the scene.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
As we amass an incredible amount of photos, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage our collections. Imagine if descriptive metadata about each photo could be appended to the image on the fly—information about who is in each photo, what they're doing, and their environment could become incredibly useful in being able to search, filter, and cross-reference our photo collections. Of course, we don't yet have the technology that makes this a practical proposition, but the Descriptive Camera uses crowd sourcing to explore these possibilities.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The assignment was for a class called Computational Cameras, which explores camera technology through experimentation and research. The final assignment was open ended, a chance to further explore any of the topic areas we covered. I decided to go off on my own and create something completely new for the final. I wanted to explore what human workers can do online and how that can be brought into the physical world.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
I researched other uses of human workers behind computational tasks and experimented with the capabilities of the new hardware platforms that I was using.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The project is meant to get people to discuss new ways of looking at photography and thinking about its relationship with data. It's also meant to be bring an unexpected dash of humanity in a cold technological world.