Milan 2014: Joseph Grima and Tamar Shafrir of design research collaborative Space Caviar explain why they set up an algorithmic journalism machine to produce magazines on the fly at Palazzo Clerici in Milan (+ movie).
FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out, is a real-time publishing algorithm developed by Space Caviar, which automatically creates magazines from feeds of live speech and related social media streams.
As part of the Atelier Clerici exhibition during Milan design week, Space Caviar set up a machine called the FOMObile, which assembled and printed out magazines on the spot.
"I've spent a lot of time thinking about the past and future of magazines," explains Space Caviar co-founder and former Domus editor Jospeh Grima. "So it's definitely an editorial project. But it's also about the convergence of technologies with design and how technology can have unexpected consequences for a lot of existent professions."
The FOMObile used speech-to-text software to pull in content from a series of talks that were held in the courtyard of Palazzo Clerici, underneath an installation designed by Arthur Huang called the Nike Aero-static Dome.
"FOMObile transcribes speech and news information that happens around it and also gathers images and Tweets that are related to the event that it's covering," explains Genoa-based writer and designer Tamar Shafrir. "It uses the algorithm as well to lay out the images and to overlay Tweets and comments onto the original content and then it prints booklets on the spot."
Grima says that he wanted the publication to look completely different from what people expect from a magazine.
"Obviously it has all of the qualities of something that is produced extremely quickly, but that's exactly what we're after," he says. "We're looking for something that has a completely different aesthetic, a completely different structure, from a conventional magazine."
The FOMObile, which gets its power from a small generator and a solar panel, can be folded up and wheeled to different events.
"It's almost like a lunar lander," Grima says. "It folds up into a small cart, so it can travel around. Then it unfolds and becomes an editorial office."
The Space Caviar team plan to take the machine to Venice in the summer to cover this year's architecture biennale.