BackTalk explores the second life of electronic devices after they are disposed of. Devices of this type are often either recycled or refurbished and reused. BackTalk takes a look at both of these routes, visualizing the paths that these devices take. The first incarnation of this is the Trash|Track project, where e-waste was collected from the community, tagged with geopositioning sensors, and then put into the recycling chain to be traced until it's final residing place. On the other hand, some e-waste such as old computers are refurbished and either resold or put into donation programs. The second life of these items is much different, in a different environment encountering different people using it for different purposes. 40 netbook computers were configured with the Prey webcam capture software to take images every 20 minutes while being operated. These computers were given out to volunteers travelling around the world to be spread through various computer exchange programs. The software displays the photos of various people and environments in which the computers have been put to use.
My role on this project was to do the final stage software design/development to visualize the BackTalk data in time for the NY MoMA "Talk to Me" exhibition. I collaborated in the team design process and produced rapid prototype variations of the software for design meetings. The software had to be robust enough to load in new data on a regular basis and be on display throughout the five month exhibition.
This project was developed by the MIT SENSEable City Lab, and is on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art's "Talk to Me" exhibition from July 24th to November 7th, 2011.