Paul Visco Thesis Abstract recreates a public sphere in a place where public meeting places have been largely commodified (e.g. Spot Coffee), by providing a cost free place to exchange ideas. By using open source software in the programming and design of the site, I have been able to keep the cost at such a minimum as to provide this service free of charge to the public within this community. There are currently about 200 users and hundreds of local readers with a daily data consumption of around 200-500MB shared amongst 1000 unique visitors per day.

Users can embed text, sound, animation, and video without any previous web programming experience and without the use of any expensive proprietary or commercial software. As soon as a user finishes click-publishing their media, the embedded data becomes immediately available to the public via the interface.

By lowering the learning curve for publication to the web, and tying the publication process in with a dedicated local readership, opens up this digital documentation process to a segment of the population that typically does not produce their own media or record their own historical experience. As with swatches in a quilt, the embedded media files are "sewn" together using MySQL, an open source database software package, and delivered to the public with PHP, another open source scripting language, to form a digital quilt of the elmwood experience from 2003-2005.

Elmwoodstrip. org is intended to counteract the negative effects on local community that have resulted from globalized communication on the internet by creating an immersive local web experience. Time spent at the site focuses the residents on communicating with each other and revitalizes the sense of local community. As the project site continues to grow, a people's history of this community begins to emerge and the interpretation of the local experience becomes more colorful and accurate. is based on open standards technologies such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL, RSS, and XML. User to user communication is handled via journals, cell phone SMS messages, site posts, integrated AOL AIM, integrated yahoo YIM, and email. Users can not only view the site from computer web browsers, but also read the site, post and receive reader feedback from their mobile phones.

In the written segment of my thesis I will be discussing the developmental issues associated with the creation of modularized online collaborative dataspaces. These issues include technology decisions, opensource vs closed source programming considerations, modularization of functionality and reusable code structure, in addition to considerations and solutions concerning the balance of interface usability vs artistic freedom.

In addition, I will be discussing the development of a emmerging form community based, interactive art performance in which the spectator is equally as much part of the production as they are a witness to it. This form combines hypertext, networking, interactivity, achiving and collecting, artist collaboration, reality television, voyeurism and exhibitionism and generative/procedurally programmed literature to form a new all-consuming artistic space.

I will also be addressing issues associated with the replacement of the commodified public sphere with a virtual environment, the perceived boundary between public and private space in relation to publicly accessible virtual identities. In addition, I will be discussing issues of wet-ware (the human component) such as the online relationship of the exhibitionist and the voyeur, overcoming implied technology boundaries, and the role of social networking in the online community and contrasting to other online communities that focus on the interaction of local residents such as the famous WELL online community in San Francisco, Craig's List, and others.