Future Think: Hi Startup Moment Mapping the World
Every individual experiences the world in a unique way but, so far, there hasn't been a technology able to capture those experiences in a moment by moment manner. Say hi to "Hi."
"Within you exists a general mapping of New York City that's different from my mapping of New York City. Your New York City street corners, storefronts and river benches feel emotionally different than my street corners. Though physically, they’re the same.”
That’s Craig Mod, designer, media theorist and co-founder (with Chris Palmieri) of Hi. He wrote those lines as part of a manifesto on Medium.com titled Hi: Narrative mapping the world.
What he’s talking about, in its most elemental form, is connecting an image and a short bit of writing to a place and giving it a home on the Web. You've told a story. You've created a narrative. And that narrative now pertains to a place on the map.
Here is an example of one of Mod's own "moments," as they're called at Hi. His text: "JFK midnight chaos."
The image is mapped to its physical location. Weather conditions are added for the time the shot was made. And Mod's fellow users who'd like to see him sketch out more information about this moment (he could write a full essay if he liked) can use the Tell Me More button to let him know they find it interesting. Participants also can subscribe to each other's entries, picking and choosing whose moments they enjoy and want to follow.
"We're building the tool to capture stories connected with location in the way that feels most natural to us," says Mod.
And when asked about the inspirations behind the creation this summer of Hi, he has an elegantly pertinent way to start his list: "Currently in Ghana and the Internet is horrrrribblllee, so barely able to eke this out."
That would be travel as an inspiration. Mod is a major traveler, and he corresponds for this story with Book Business just before he goes completely off-grid, "I'll be on dirt roads most of tomorrow."
More inspirations? "Cities, Italo Calvino, Pico Iyer, Paula Fox, Rebecca Solnit. It's also inspired by the idea of archives, their value in community resilience, of grounding story in place, of creating a 'savings bank' for moments in the world, and being delighted in unexpected ways on unintentional journeys."
Like such "unintentional journeys," this startup's new way of seeing the world helps us understand a place in terms of story. That street corner in New York City Mod spoke of, for example, means one thing for you, another for him.
At the moment, Hi is privately funded, Mod says. "We're very lean. We have a good runway. We have enough to see us through several iterations and push out all the features we're most excited about in the coming months."
Any tie-ins with major social media ahead?
"Oh, my, yes," he says. "We have a branch on our git repo that has Twitter and Facebook sharing buttons. We just haven't had time enough to test it (and create a UX we're comfortable with) and release it. So, yes, we very much see Hi as sitting closely with most other social networks."
Hi is available only by invitation now. "We'd like to open the service up to everyone eventually," Mod says. "As soon as we feel we've gotten everything to a solid place, we'll crack the floodgates. I'd love to have 100,000+ people sketching and writing daily."
And now, well, Mod disappears into that map. You can find him surfacing moments from many points on his journeys or, if you like, on his Twitter feed. And many friends are with him now, exploring this new way of “telling” the world, “narrative mapping,” “moment mapping”…even the terms are evolving with the tool.
As Hi writer Marina Zhao says in a moment in the map: "the sky really is the limit."
Journalist Porter Anderson, formerly with CNN and the Village Voice, specializes in publishing at PublishingPerspectives.com, JaneFriedman.com, and WriterUnboxed.com