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Urbanseeder
Exploring flirting interactions. Mixing technology with fate

Author: Maya Lotan (Israel)
Supervisors: Yaniv Steiner and Heather Martin

Idea/problem/context Flirting is a play of imagination, pretence and uncertain outcomes. But technology-mediated dating services replace this magic with profiling, forms and statistical algorithms: dating feels more like work than the start of a beautiful friendship.

What it is Urbanseeder, a flirting service, increases your chance of running again into people you find attractive. Using minimal digital technology, the game plays out unpredictably in real space and using physical tokens.

How it works As a member you have a web page in which you list the events you plan to attend, and stickers (‘urban seeds’) with unique codes linked to this page. Secretly stick the seeds on people who interest you – using friends, say, or bar staff – or their belongings. The finder follows the seed to your web page, imagines you from the events listed, and perhaps attends some of them. Excited by knowing your seed has been found, you stay anonymous until repeated co-attendance at events may gradually draw you together. The encounters remain, however, the product of chance, instinct and intentional mystery.Another version allows a more passive use of your ‘seed’ Its code is replaced by an all-over visual pattern, unique to you, which can again appear on stickers but also be woven into, or printed on, your clothes or accessories by your favourite fashion house. Someone with a camera phone can take a photo of you, send the pattern to Urbanseeder, and be sent your web page. The game begins again.

Value/Potential The general concept behind this service – physical ‘seeds’, increased probability of ‘chance’ encounters – is applicable whenever the familiarization of strangers needs a little help: amorous intent is not essential. That participants alert their strangers to only certain events also enhances a very urban phenomenon: constant, selective ‘word of mouth’ critique of such events.

download QuickTime Movie (video by Andrea Pierri) - 2.78 MB


Maya Lotan
2005 graduate
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