One of the newest projects to emerge from the Silicon Pasture community is Collectivus, currently “a test of a prototype before a beta.”
I’ve been playing with Collectivus for a couple of weeks now, and I can say this: it is location and check-in a la Foursquare, only people encounter “thingies” out in the world (see picture above) and register their encounters. Note that first-generation Thingies bear a strong resemblance to rubber ducks.
It goes something like this: someone finds or is given a “thingie,” registers it on the Collectivus website, optionally uploads a picture. Then, “Move me, give me or leave me somewhere,” says the instruction sticker on the thingie’s underside. You can subscribe to follow your thingie on its journeys, in which case you get a message when it resurfaces somewhere.
It’s like sending out a message in a bottle and see where it floats to. Times a thousand. One can imagine thingies crisscrossing the world, others immediately discarded, others staying in one place.
Many people I’ve described this to don’t get it. Probably a combination of my inarticulateness and the difficulty of putting this kind of complex, serendipitous, emergent experience into words (see above). In the end, Collectivus, as Twitter has demonstrated, will become what its users make it to be. The Collectivus team has created a wide-open platform to explore movement, giving, and attachment to objects. Time will tell how it ends up. Perhaps people will be registering encounters with battered thingies twenty years from now.