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8 December 2014

KITES - an update from India

Invisible Flock blog about their latest progress on KITES - a project exploring how SMS can be used to bridge geographies, demographics and economics to allow invisible communities to vocalise their stories and share with each other

We have just finished a major major milestone on developing If You Go Away - we’ve built Chapter One a 50 minute first introduction to the world, a play around with some of the mechanics of the experience and an opportunity for us to really get to grips with both the form, the story, the medium and the platforms we are using (mainly Unity, which I have a long long blog post to write about at a later date). We launched chapter One with the beautifully curated Compass Festival in Leeds, learnt loads and loved showing it to the public for the first time, even though it's always a terrifying experience, then jumped on a plane to Bangalore.

We’ve been to India before to take part in the Unbox Labs last February and developed a great relationship with Quicksand, a design studio based in Delhi and Bangalore, and together we are working on a new project called KITES, an SMS based project linking participants across the UK and India to share their lives with each other through a curated diary-like process. 

Responding to a series of prompts from us, participants send SMS messages which in turn are forwarded onto another participant in either India or the UK, gradually compiling a series of snapshots and indirect
dialogue between participants. 

Tied up within the idea behind KITES is a lot of thinking about communication and dialogue, how simple tools from a user perspective can enable us to have far reaching dialogues. In a way these conversations are perhaps similar to ones that people are already having through their natural networks, via Facebook or the like, but KITES has a different aim and central user base in mind. Rather than a social network
where communication is a constant exercise of filtering and finding the signal in the noise KITES is designed to allow a stripped back conversation on a global scale that can take place across social and
economic borders delivered through the most ubiquitous messaging systems: SMS. 

We are at early design stages, talking around ideas and rolling out early test systems. We spent a lot of time yesterday talking around Instagram as a tool for dialogue VS broadcast - using the idea of the static image as a single text message and the emergent dialogue that comes to life around these self curated snapshots of our lives.

We ran a day one test with 8 brave volunteers in both India and the UK using what's app - and have already uncovered some clear design issues or preconceptions that are lost in the sparse medium that is a
text only dialogue, balancing the instructional voice VS other participant's own personal voices, creating conversations in a space that is used to accommodating multiple medias, and people's natural desire to answer back and have conversations. We are iterating towards a new test model , and if you are curious to join us in these early states of the platform please get in touch in the comment section, twitter
or whichever form of communication you prefer. 

Bangalore is hot, the food is wonderful and there are three huge hippo like dogs in the studio we are working from.