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Naked on Pluto

Naked on Pluto.

A fun yet disturbing online game, developed with open source software, which parodies the insidiously invasive traits of “social software”. The city of “Elastic Versailles” is animated by the quirky combinatorial logics of a community of 57 artificial intelligence bots that glean the Facebook data of subscribers to the game. Naked on Pluto’s bot crew, difficult to distinguish from other agents in this textual environment, is formed by dysfunctional gatekeepers . The participants in the game can break the access control systems, but the bots have a certain flexibility to remain. The players can try and override the restrictions of the game and team up to crash and escape the system. Activities are described in a blog and on Twitter, and the robots run havoc with user information and that of their contacts while generating a constant stream of incitements to click, declare, poke and buy, generating more or less spurious links at dizzying speed. Disconcertingly familiar faces and information from one’s own and associated profiles are mixed indiscriminately in a brash landscape, rather like that of the original Versailles, designed for promotional parades of inseparable personal and ideological attributes. No information on players is stored, nor is it shared or relayed to Facebook in this malleable ecosystem where all that counts are glimpses of fleeting visibility.

Naked on Pluto caricatures the proliferation of virtual agents that harvest our personal data to reformulate in an insidious way our virtual environments and profiles, highlighting the ambivalent contrasts of the social networks: friends as quantifiable assets and personas carefully fashioned to impart a sense of “intimacy” and disingenuous publication of “private” data as self-advertising. The emergence of intelligence in this game is, ultimately, hopefully, that of the players that manage to escape from it.

Update: 16 January 2012


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