Data doodles

About a month ago, I made a new backup of the data from tinyDoodle. It is available as a text file consisting of 31.2 megabytes of integer coordinates of 2d points that are put together as a very long sequence of line segments. It’s formatted in JSON in a straightforward way. It doesn’t matter to me how silly this application sounds, there is something I still find incredibly compelling about the ability of computers to capture drawing gestures as sets of numbers that can be performed as drawing gestures that are sets of numbers. I think this drawing-to-number quasi-biyection is priceless.

I was recently talking about how different interaction models determine differences in communication, and how interesting it is for me to look at scenarios where a group of humans is restricted to use non-conventional channels to communicate with each other. Like putting two persons in a room and have them play a game where all they can do is make drawings to each other. Blackboard, paper, whiteboard, it doesn’t matter. Their communication will not be very efficient this way, but they will get very creative at drawing, and maybe come across some ideas that they would have never explored any other way.

More recently, Buzamoto launched a cool iPad app called Pendipity that offers a similar functionality to tinyDoodle, only better. It features a more advanced, yet very simple, drawing interface, and it implements a seamless chatting experience using a Node.js server. In terms of space, the difference between both systems is clear. When someone initiates a shared Pendipity session, the system will look for another available user to create a drawing team of two, and TinyDoodle is an open space where anybody can access the same drawing at any given time. So tinyDoodle is like a public blackboard, and Pendipity is like a shared notebook where every visitor is paired with someone else to draw on a single page of the notebook at a time. In Pendipity, a different session means a different drawing. In tinyDoodle, there will always be the same single drawing, around thirty something mb long at this point. The drawing is so dense, you actually have to watch it in chunks to make sense of it.

The following image is a collaboration Buza and I made on Pendipity. We didn’t find out we were drawing together until later, when we talked about it by chance. The idea of collaborating with somebody close to you without knowing who they are is bizarre, to say the least.

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