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ambulator 1.0 / 2.0 / 3.0 / 4.0

Medium: Internet-Application
Year: 1999 / 2004
Client: Design Project at
the Royal College of Art
and in 2004 at the
Information and
Interaction Group
FHP/Interface Design

The Ambulator is a different way of thinking about websites. Instead of having a row of isolated pages, the Ambulator displays fragments of several web pages simultaneously in the same space.

The Ambulator-Project was initiated at the Computer Related Design programme of the Royal College of Art and is now continued by myself at the Information and Interaction Group at the Interface Design programme / Fachhochschule Potsdam.

The Ambulator Project:
A web site and a page in a magazine may look pretty much the same, but they are not. The structure behind them is different. Form and content of a magazine are glued together through the process of printing. But on the web, form and content can easily be separated. Images can be detached from the text, text can be isolated from the layout.

Ambulator is an internet agent that makes use of these possibilities. It collects text and images from different web sites and creates a fluid, dynamic collage out of this web material.

After the user has specified a keyword, the ambulator searches the internet for web pages that are related to the keyword. It then takes a chunk of text from one page, an image from another and displays text and images on screen. So the ambulator creates a new context by bringing together text and images from different web sites. After a while, the screen is filled up with words and pictures.

{Left: The setup of ambulator 3.0. The application is tracing the movements of the user on a map. At the same time, it generates a fluid collage of text and images the user comes across.

Click on the image to find out more about the map function.}

Every object on screen relates to a web site on the internet, it always remembers where it comes from. The objects are capsules of information that with a click instantly bring you to the web page they relate to.

During the search process, the ambulator also collects all new URLs it finds. Following these URLs, the ambulator can continue the search-and-display process. New web pages are searched, more text and more images are placed into the collage. The effect of this process is that the ambulator starts to drift. After a while, the material that is displayed on screen may have moved away from the specified keyword.

{Left: A collage generated by the ambulator. Every fragment of the collage is link, referring to the wepsite the fragment derives from. The specified keyword was »NASA«. Click to enlarge.}

The ambulator reveals the smallest units a web site is build of. It reminds us that nothing on the web is fixed, things can be separated and joint up again, space has no meaning. The ambulator links together objects that have not been linked by anyone. It automates the creation of hyperlinks and breaks up the isolation of a single web page.

The ambulator was developed at the Computer Related Design Course of the Royal College of Art.

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