Spectacular new web project seeks to connect cultural ideas

Just received this from the brilliant web artist Jonathan Harris (who spoke at TED here). His new project is unbelievably ambitious, and -- as with all of Jonathan's work -- simply oozing beautiful design.  

The project appears to have been commissioned as a non-profit spinoff of Sputnik Inc, a NY-based marketing consultancy. I've played with the site for half an hour or so and it's seriously seductive. But I'm not 100% clear yet on how it will actually be used.  Is it best regarded as an encyclopedia of video-based learning, or as an art project? Is it something people will tinker with for a pleasurable hour or so, or something they will come back to? Intended to be scientifically credible or a teensy bit new-agey? (Not quite sure what to make of this 'about' page.)

If you have an opinion, please add a comment!  For now, mine is simply.... wow !

From: Jonathan Harris
Date: June 30, 2009 2:20:40 PM EDT
Subject: New work: Sputnik Observatory

Sputnik Observatory

Hi everyone,

I wanted to let you know about a new project of mine that just launched today:

The Sputnik Observatory ( http://sptnk.org )

It's the result of a two-year collaboration with New York-based Sputnik, Inc., an organization that documents contemporary culture through intimate video interviews with hundreds of leading thinkers in the arts, sciences and technology, covering a wide range of topics.

The central premise of the Sputnik project is that everything is connected to everything else, and that topics and ideas that may seem fringe and even heretical to the mainstream world are in fact being investigated by leading thinkers working in fields as diverse as quantum physics, mathematics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, video games, computer science and music. Sputnik is dedicated to bringing these crucial ideas from the fringes of thought out into the limelight, so that the world can begin to understand them.

Conducted over more than ten years and previously unavailable to the public, the interviews within the site chronicle some of the most provocative human ideas to have emerged in the last few decades. The site itself aims to highlight the interconnections between seemingly disparate thinkers and ideas, using a simple navigational system with no dead ends, where every thought leads to another thought, akin to swimming the stream of consciousness.

There are about 200 videos on the site today, and there will be thousands more added over the coming weeks, months, and years.


Jonathan Harris

7 responses
Wow. Where do I begin? ;-)
Sounds eerily similar to: http://www.ted.com/
Jonathan has always been one of my favorite artist, designer and technologist, I'm always very fascinated by his work, how he's able to combine beautiful design with technology to explore humanity and social science in our modern society. Check out www.wefeelfine.org, www.tenbyten.org, iwantyoutowantme.org, and timecapsule.yahoo.com/yahootime/overview.php if you haven't.
I absolutely love Jonathan Harris. Sputnik (reviewed -- shameless plug -- here) is a very ambitious and high-concept project, which can be a plus and a minus. But it does a great job of balancing big ideas from big thinkers with a very personal, dynamic user experience that fosters sharing and thus better idea dissemination. Which is actually something TED has made huge improvements on over the past 6 months or so. Clearly, that's where the culture of culture is going -- towards sharing and cross-pollination, not just broadcasting big-think at the enlightened masses. And Sputnik does that not just in message, but in medium.

The Paths feature is particularly conducive to that, I'm curious to see where it will go and how people will adapt it.

Hi Chris,

Just a note to say thank you so very much for posting feedback about the launch of Sputnik Observatory, we're so thrilled to have had collaborated with Jonathan Harris on this endeavor.

We're continually updating the site, so please look forward to interviews with extraordinary minds such as Karl Pribram,
Rupert Sheldrake, Bernard Haisch, Evelyn Glennie, Candace Pert,
Paul D. Miller, Christina Kubisch, Free Range Studios, Shepard Fairey, Rick Prelinger, Naut Humon, Katie Salen, Kodwo Eshun, and more...

Kind Regards,
Fellow Traveler, SPTNK

sorry kings twitter, zero tolerance here! Share experiences, anything!
Jonathan has always been one of my favorite artist, designer and technologist, I'm always very fascinated by his work, how he's able to combine beautiful design with technology to explore humanity and social science in our modern society.Inbound Links