Jonnet M, uɐɯʞuǝɯ ɐsoɹ

The pulling power of ikTrek

At Social RFID Hacker Camp 2009, Day 6

"The greatest satisfaction is in creating an experience that people enjoy."

The tug-o-war contest of network and muscle strength is bringing drama to the hacker camp forecourt. A feat of mechanical engineering and aesthetic carpentry, the project has stuck to the original brief and has run smoothly from concept to execution.


trekken aan de ikTrek - At Picnic 2009 uɐɯʞuǝɯ ɐsoɹ

On schedule and ready for battle on the morning of the first day, ikTrek has been pulling in crowds at every tug of war match since. As punters become more adventurous and competitive, people are jumping out of the crowd, swiping their ikTags, grabbing the rope and pulling with all their might. People are excited by being able to join their friends to help sway the result and, most importantly, share in the fun. Mediamatic boss Willem, has been playing havoc with his tag which has the network strength of an army of body builders. One swipe of the ikTag reader and the yellow pointer arrow swings violently in his favour. Virtual muscle indeed.

For project designer Bastiaan, the highlight of the week was to see a record 10 people battling it out at either end of the rope. Seconds later, disaster struck as their combined strength broke the 10ml bolts which anchor the pulley to the concrete clean in two.

Bastiaan is the coder and electronics designer behind the ikTrek concept. Despite having to keep drilling new bolts into the PICNIC forecourt, he's really satisfied with the results. There have been no other hitches and he and team member Rutger have achieved everything they set out to do. With hindsight they could have developed a more effective system of securing the ikTrek box to the floor, but having a strong concept from the start, there has been time to fix stuff, and to pull in hackers from other teams who have the right skills for the job in hand. The chance to work with people of such a wide variety of skills has been really beneficial.

But it's the public's enjoyment of the game which gives Bastiaan the greatest satisfaction. Seeing people having fun in real time physical interaction means more to him than the strength of the concept as a metaphor for online and offline network connectivities. The aim was always to get people to have fun.