Whether it’s the ultimate reaction to Web 2.0 or a hypocritical, post-modern, flash mob-inspired game penned as art, NoSo is yet another trendy, techy art project. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t intriguing, fun, and hopelessly ironic in true hipster form. NoSo is a response to the ubiquity of online social networking produced by Christina Ray of Glowlab. It’s about the ironies of connecting on the social web and the way there isn’t always much social in this web. According to official project language, “NOSO offers a moment of relief to the technology wearied.” But, ironically, being predominantly a web-based project, it is still tech-centric.
Last Friday marked the project’s opening event at Southern Exposure gallery in San Francisco at which there were a few ground rules: “no networking, no texting, no cellphone use, no laptop use, no downloading, no blogging, no vlogging etc.” Yet the project is about networking. You can set up a user profile on the NoSo site where you get to choose an online ID and trendy silhouette reminiscent of those made popular by Apple’s iPod ads to represent your online personality. To complete your NoSo profile, the site provides prompts like “Where I do NOt live” and “NOt my favorite music.”
Only one portion of the project actually takes place in cyberspace. The part that is concretely grounded on real turf sounds a lot like flash mobs (maybe flash NObs?). The NoSo site publishes information about the time and location of said anti-socializing meet-ups, which consist of a few people walking into a pre-determined location such as a cafe or park, snapping a few photos on a digital camera, then uploading them to flickr tagged as “nosoproject.” If this isn’t an act of participating in the social web, I don’t know what is. But at least the project makes us think about what it means to live in this age of ubiquitous internet technology.