Tweets in Space: Contacting E.T., 140 Characters at a Time
Anoosh Chakelian for Time Magazine Web Site
— Meet the pair of digital artists trying to raise enough money to send your online musings across the cosmos.
You carefully hone your tweets like they’re the Great American Novel and painstakingly cultivate your Twitter followers. You obsess over your Klout score and consider yourself a true social media maven. But have you sent your tweets into space?
Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, the duo behind such multimedia experiments as Wikipedia Art, are collecting donations via RocketHub to fund their latest project: “build or borrow a high tech communications system that will beam your real time text messages to a planet that can support extraterrestrial life.”
How does it work? Simply add the hashtag #tweetsinspace to any Twitter message. Kildall and Stern will collect them and, funding permitting, beam them spaceward in order to, as Mashable puts it, “inform extraterrestrial beings of our culture and society.” “Previously only elite institutions or rich and powerful individuals could transmit to our alien friends,” Kildall says in their video appeal. “We want to democratize the universe.”
At a mere 22 light years away, their chosen planet, GJ667Cc, is the closest to Earth that’s likely to host lifeforms. (That’s 164 trillion miles — hey, neighbor!). They plan to use the money raised to obtain access to a laser or radio transmitter “with a dish strong enough for extraterrestrials to read from across the cosmos.” They’ll also open source their code so that anyone can do the same. The idea is to have the project up and running in time for a performance at the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Albequerque, N.M. in September. As the duo say in their mission statement:
Tweets in Space asks us to take a closer look at our spectacular need to connect, perform and network with others. It creates a tension between the depth and shallowness of sharing 140 characters at a time with the entire Internet world, in all its complexity, richness and absurdity, by transmitting our passing thoughts and responses to everywhere and nowhere.
Sure, whatever — the important thing is tweets in space.Kildall and Stern are only about $2,100 toward their $8,500 goal, however, so if you Twitterati are tired of communicating with the dull old human population, better get donating.