New York Post

Tales of Things has reached the New York Times and Rob Walkers article is a good introduction to the potential of tagging and in particular memory.

The Back Story
By ROB WALKER
Published: September 3, 2010
Ask anybody about the most meaningful object he owns, and you’re sure to get a story — this old trunk belonged to Grandpa, we bought that tacky coffee mug on our honeymoon, and so on. The relationship between the possessions we value and the narratives behind them is unmistakable. Current technologies of connection, and enterprises that take advantage of them, surface this idea in new ways — but they also suggest the many different kinds of stories, information and data that objects can, or will, tell us.
A project called Totem, financed by a grant from the Research Councils U.K., concentrates on the narratives of thing-owners. The basic concept is that users can write up (or record) the story of, say, a chess trophy or a silver bracelet and upload it toTalesofThings.com. Slap on a sticker with a newfangled bar code, and anybody with a properly equipped smartphone can scan the object and learn that the trophy was won in a 2007 tournament in Paris and that the bracelet was a gift purchased in Lisbon. In May, Totem researchers worked with an Oxfam thrift store in Manchester, recording stories by stuff-donors, for a spinoff project called RememberMe. Shoppers could hear short back stories for about 60 pieces of secondhand merchandise. The used goods with stories were swiftly snapped up, says Chris Speed, who teaches at the Edinburgh College of Art and is the principal researcher at Totem: “You pick up these banal objects, and if it has a story, as soon as you hear it, it becomes something far richer.”

The Back StoryPicture 5

By ROB WALKER

Published: September 3, 2010

Ask anybody about the most meaningful object he owns, and you’re sure to get a story — this old trunk belonged to Grandpa, we bought that tacky coffee mug on our honeymoon, and so on. The relationship between the possessions we value and the narratives behind them is unmistakable. Current technologies of connection, and enterprises that take advantage of them, surface this idea in new ways — but they also suggest the many different kinds of stories, information and data that objects can, or will, tell us.

A project called Totem, financed by a grant from the Research Councils U.K., concentrates on the narratives of thing-owners. The basic concept is that users can write up (or record) the story of, say, a chess trophy or a silver bracelet and upload it toTalesofThings.com. Slap on a sticker with a newfangled bar code, and anybody with a properly equipped smartphone can scan the object and learn that the trophy was won in a 2007 tournament in Paris and that the bracelet was a gift purchased in Lisbon. In May, Totem researchers worked with an Oxfam thrift store in Manchester, recording stories by stuff-donors, for a spinoff project called RememberMe. Shoppers could hear short back stories for about 60 pieces of secondhand merchandise. The used goods with stories were swiftly snapped up, says Chris Speed, who teaches at the Edinburgh College of Art and is the principal researcher at Totem: “You pick up these banal objects, and if it has a story, as soon as you hear it, it becomes something far richer.”


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