Popularity Prosthetics: Retweet Popularity Monitor for Face-to-Face Conversation

Designed as a critique of status monitoring in online contexts, this project presents a prototype of a prosthetic device that conversation partners wear in their mouths to provide visual and auditory feedback about the speaker’s level of online popularity (measured in retweets). The speaker with more current retweets experiences voice amplification (and their mouth glows a clear blue) while the less popular interlocutor gets quieter and their mouth glows red. The design aims to call attention to problematic features of the “marketplace of attention” that structures the amplification of “speech” in online contexts. In this way, I deliberately designed the objects to frustrate communication by awkwardly interjecting online status into meat-space.

Special thanks to Laila Shereen Sakr and Rosemary Comella for helping me to demo this project.