Object Obsessions: Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things

This past fall we ran a massive experiment entitled Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things. It marked the first prototype to be released by the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab. Over 1,000 collaborators from 60+ countries staged 70+ events around the world. At the center of the experience was the pilot of a MOOC with less than 300 participants. The following is a reflection of the experience from Sancha de Burca a collaborator from the UK.

“Warning: Artificially increasing the subjective value of objects will most likely lead to unintended consequences.” Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn

“Over the last couple of months I have been involved in a happening from Columbia University about interactive story telling. The name of it is Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things. The happening culminates at the end of October in a few global interactive crime scenes at which participants have to figure out the story from connected or adapted objects. These objects are just ordinary things that have been “enchanted” with digital manipulation to make them other than the sum of their parts. The whole thing is a giant experiment in collaboration and imagination and nobody yet knows how it will turn out or what stories the live action crime-solving “detectives” will evolve. My role, as part of one of the many small, international online teams, is to think like the “killer”; but one who wants to leave clues and perhaps red herrings…!

We started our explorations with a game in which we marked out with tape or chalk a body from an imaginary crime scene. The more odd or picturesque the scene we made the better this worked…”

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Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things

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An experiment in co-authorship – Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things invites 25 participants to step into a collaborative design space. Together participants will lay the groundwork for a storyworld that will play out globally through a series of connected objects that become conduits for a re-imaging of Sherlock Holmes. Recently entered into the public domain, Sherlock Homes will provide the foundation for an exploration into new forms and functions of storytelling. Those who apply, and are accepted into the lab, will become co-authors and owners of the experiment.