Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 2, 2012.

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Up to 1000 cyclists at Northern Spark 2012 will receive blinking red bike lights that synchronize with each other.

This project will distribute 1,000 interactive blinking LED devices to bicyclists who will attend Northern Spark 2012, a dusk-to-dawn citywide arts festival in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which starts on June 9. The devices are outfitted with electronics that allow them to synchronize with others, so that all nearby devices automatically and mutually engage in an observable process of synchronization. These devices, in isolation, appear similar to conventional LED cycling safety lights, but in groups, they exhibit an immediately noticeable and striking phenomenon. Participating cyclists are encouraged to gather for an 11:59 PM ride across the Stone Arch Bridge on June 9, the night of the festival. Northern Spark has contributed generously to this project, but more money is still needed for graphic design, raw materials, laser cutting, volunteer rewards, shipping costs, and other expenses.

The aim of the project is to activate and transform the social networks and urban dynamics associated with cycling by fusing this system with one biased towards synchronization -- an outward display of unity through cooperative display, perception and adjustment. Grafting this artificial dynamic system of synchronized blinking lights (a textbook example from the domain of cybernetics) onto a real-world urban transportation system will accomplish two goals: 1. call attention to the individual act of cycling as a component of a larger dynamic system with its own unique patterns and qualities, and 2. momentarily transform that system through a subtle but pointed intervention in urban social space.

All steps of the project are documented and published on a project blog: http://1000fireflies.net. The software and hardware implementation details are published under an open-source license, allowing others to reproduce and tinker with the design. All files are available on GitHub.

Update -- Thanks to everyone who has supported this project! We've reached the goal of $1,000, but our true goal is 1,000 cyclists. If you haven't yet, reserve your light today and join us on June 9 at Northern Spark.

FAQ

  • For this project to succeed, we're trying to get as many people with lights together in one place as we can, as after all, the lights only work through presence and closeness, and are fundamentally local in their operation. Purchasing, manufacturing, and order fulfillment takes time, and there just isn't enough of that before the festival to supply lights to people elsewhere.

    If there's enough interest, I might manufacture a second edition of lights after the festival for people who didn't get the chance to participate. Stay tuned to http://1000fireflies.net for updates.

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  • It varies, sometimes considerably, but within 50 feet you will have a good chance of synchronizing.

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  • Unfortunately, if you haven't already pledged, we can't reserve a light for you. However, there will be a limited supply available on the night of the festival (June 9) at the Fifth Ave SE info tent. We hope to see you there!

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    16 backers

    Make sure you get a light! Pledging $10 reserves you a light for pickup before the night of the festival. The light is yours to keep, and the batteries are easily replaceable, so it'll live on, long after the festival is over.

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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    95 backers

    A pledge of $15 or more reserves two lights, available for pickup before the night of the festival.

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Funding period

- (18 days)