Precursory project. This project is precursory to Automatiek #2 - a project I’m currently working on - and which revolves around data harvesting, data analysis, commerciality and narrative.
This project, Automatiek, revolves around user interface design, narrative, and optimisation.
Automatiek was born out of a want; to learn to code, and a hobby of mine; collecting rare and off centre music in physical format. A hobby, which has, through the years, become increasingly harder and expensive to sustain. Mainly because of the increasing interest in physical media / format music.
Being very familiar with one of the most prominent selling / buying platforms, I noticed certain update intervals, discrepancies in information, auto recommendations, and selling / buying behaviour corresponding with it. Through the old website architecture I was also able to source seller information which was not directly available through the normal interface. Combined it lead to the conception a program. A program which, put simply, would notify me the instant a release would be put up for sale. Making sure I am the first to know and buy.
The design exists out of two parts.
Automatiek; the software, database architecture, the physical server and its housing.
And Fortuna; the user interface.
The software is primarily written in Python, in combination with SQLite for the database.
It runs on a Raspberry Pi. One which is configured to be plug and play on known wifi connections, always up and running, and which reboots in case of an error. The housing is made of lego, sporting a certain aesthetic. This aesthetic, however, does not necessarily support the narrative of the interface. Automatiek and Fortuna can and should be seen as separate in this way: the (technical) device and the user interface.
Fortuna, the interface, is build upon the Slack messaging platform. Slack supports cross platform notifications, and has a reasonably well documented API; which also happens to work well with Python. Instead of me making a dedicated interface, Fortuna became a chatbot.
Since Fortuna is a chatbot, build upon an already existing platform, It changed the frame in which to design, and the ways in which to convey a narrative. A narrative to knit together the user action, feedback, with the actual function or reason to use the device; the search for a rare release. I decided on designing an emoji based interface: to build an appropriate narrative with and within the possibilities of the currently available unicode emojis for slack.
The interface draws inspiration from an agricultural cycle / growth process. Combined with a divine touch. The want and search for a release; a release being added to the database, is symbolised by a seedling emoji (🌱).
A newly found release is represented by a piece of a fully grown plant; an olive branch emoji (🌿). To be delivered to me by Fortuna. Fortuna, named after the Roman goddess of luck (-of the harvest) and good fortune, and who is often symbolised through the depiction of a dove, is represented by a dove (🕊). All user action is given feedback logically fitting and representing both the action as well as the narrative. For instance: adding a release to the database while specifying a certain monetary upper threshold upon which to be notified, is represented by a seedling emoji (🌱) deprived of sunlight (☁️). Inhibiting growth. A still empty database is represented by a moon emoji (🌙). Symbolising both 'harvest' as well as 'a new beginning'.