Core Concept

"When we were little, we really wanted a little companion who would ride sidesaddle on the crests of our ears. A mischievous and constant pal, who was our charge and also our commentator, who gave context and breadth to the world and shook up our autonomic ways."
PDPal animates a space between the private and the performative that is meant to be seen, discussed, and exchanged between people (either complicitly or through proximity) by interfacing with culture on the street: Subway riders, shopkeepers, dogwalkers, and phone booth users are all potential participants. The goal of the PDPal experience is to use mobility and networks as a mediating and recording device that reactivates our everyday actions, transforming them into a dynamic portrait of our urban experience: we write our own cities.
The term "PDA" connotes a personal assistant, and therefore PDPal would be one of the first projects to transform the accessory construct of PDA's into a group and personal experience. PDPal's software will be available for update and download via the web or kiosk. The kiosks will use existing beaming devices and software by hi-beam (currently in use on Creative Time's public Beaming Network around New York City).
Character function and interactivity:
Each kiosk will host a unique PDPal Urban Park Ranger(UPR): a persona who, once downloaded to our PDA, encourages us to log our momentary experiences (actions, proximities, and perceptual phenomena) in iconic broad strokes. The UPR helps us produce a map of each recorded moment. For each map we make, our UPR then challenges us to "go further" by delivering one-page maps and guides: transportable and humorous suggestions, assignments and provocations. These maps and guides are specific to the persona of the UPR living on our PDA. Users are encouraged to trade UPR's or seek out more at other kiosks or on the web.
Performance and Replay via WWW:
When a user hotsyncs her PDA to her PC, PDPal is updated and the user's past history of interactions is uploaded to the web. The website consists of a visual BLOG which is organized into dynamic, cartogrammic maps that reflect user's Temporary Personal Urbanisms (the "snapshot" maps that reflect the transitory and ephemeral states of personal, urban scapes). These maps can be annotated by their owners with text capsules that would expand the "story" nature or add information. The maps reveal the nexus between our daily social interactions and the potential of the virtual - creating a two-way lens between the force of the virtual and one's physical context. Even if a user's responses to their PDPal are fictionalized, there remains an expansive self-awareness regarding the sum of a day's adventures.
Multiple modes of distribution will be available. These include a visual BLOG website, dispersed public beaming kiosks and other PDPal users. Ten public kiosks will be installed in New York City in 2002 as part of an initiative by the public arts organization, Creative Time.