Algorithmic publishing project FOMO explores
the "unexpected consequences of technology"

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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).

Space Caviar's FOMObile
Space Caviar's FOMObile

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.

FOMO magazines
Magazines produced by the FOMObile

"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."

Nike Aero-static Dome designed by Arthur Huang
Nike Aero-static Dome designed by Arthur Huang

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.

On The Fly talks at Palazzo Clerici
On The Fly talks at Palazzo Clerici

"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."

Page from a magazine produced by the FOMObile
Page from a magazine produced by the FOMObile

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."

Space Caviar's FOMObile
Space Caviar's FOMObile

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."

Space Caviar's FOMObile
Space Caviar's FOMObile

The Space Caviar team plan to take the machine to Venice in the summer to cover this year's architecture biennale.

You can download all the issues published at Atelier Clerici in Milan here.

The music featured in the movie is a track called Antagonic Urban Cities by Ral. You can listen to more original track on Dezeen Music Project.