Call for Collaboration: Help Develop a New Kind of Local, Participatory Social Network
A person touching a tablet
Interactive project by Max Hoaglund for Art(ists) on the Verge. Photo: Rik Sferra, courtesy of the artist


In seeking to understand how social media affects our lives, what kind of analysis is best? We are in the midst of collective action dedicated to forensically examining the behavior of corporate and state concerns as they impact the social media sphere. We are also in the midst of individually establishing thoughtful practices around how to consume social media services. How can these efforts be supplemented by designing and developing small social media platforms in localized, participatory ways? How can this process be implemented in a way that ensures it has constructive, generative outcomes? How much of this can be carried out in public? Artist and technologist Max Hoaglund is organizing a design, discourse and development project to develop practice addressing these questions.

Are you...

  • a writer who thinks about metadata, jargon, or code?

  • a programmer who wants to design data structures democratically?

  • a designer who thinks about adaptive behavior in digital spaces?

  • a communicator who wonders about how social media is altering the way we interact?

Do the social media platforms you use feel like they prevent or stifle certain kinds of communication that you’d like to be sharing? Are you curious about how you might begin developing an alternative that empowers you instead?

Reach out to with questions and comments, or to request project details. You are probably an incredible addition to this project. >>

A mind map
Mind map notes courtesy of the artist

Proposal Summary

With provided technical help, a small cohort of participants will iteratively design and use a temporary social network for themselves over the course of several months. The participants will design features, interfaces and data structures as a group in the hopes of supporting their own communication needs in the context of collectively-chosen tasks, and in the hopes of establishing new tools and questions addressing the phenomena of the online social world. The group will ask:

  • Do we need a fixed format for online communication?
  • What happens if we implement a format that rapidly shifts?
  • What does post-scarcity data look like?
  • What if a social media platform was built with a limited lifespan?

These questions will be pondered with annotations, color-coding, metadata, footnotes, paratext, sidebars, live experimentation with in-progress technology, concatenation and more! Cohort meetings will feature inter-disciplinary discussion and design of (and experimentation with) a digital communications system that seeks to document and support its own creation. The cohort will have collective control over the design of this platform, and will be responsible for reflecting on how their design and usage intermingle, and work or don’t work. The project will seek to manufacture temporary technology and permanent learning.


Project Commitment & Timeline

You will attend 10-12 cohort meetings with a core group of 4-5 participants that will be conducted online from July to November 2020, with an approximate time commitment of two hours per week. The project will culminate in an exhibition at WAM’s Target Studio for Creative Collaboration. Participants will be compensated with a $500 stipend.

Email Boris Oicherman to get involved, or to ask general questions about this project or other Target Studio collaborations. If you want more details on this opportunity, in particular, you may also reach out to the artist, Max Hoagland:

Max Hoaglund

About the Artist

Max Hoaglund is a Minnesota-born artist working at the intersection of sculpture, digital systems and social practice. He works to blur and puncture the boundary between “technical” and “non-technical” disciplines, and creates quiet, detailed projects which critically examine notions such as technological sophistication, expertise, and convenience. His work aims to dissolve encapsulated boundaries in the technological world using social inquiry, and asks of a given thing “what is it” as many times as necessary.