computing shrines.canvas

Shrines in the neighborhood stewarded by community members dedicated to everyday things that people care about for the neighborhood to come together in an asynchronous manner (like a shared dining table feels to housemates but to the entire neighborhood and open to visitors?)


  • shared computer, community memory vibes
  • cheap, affordable, disposable, interchangeable (no incentive to take)
    • how can it feel living without requiring a physical computer there, how can we leverage the computers that everyone has but also impart some form of living to the physical
    • can you force them to make some sort of mark or effect on the actual physical artifact in order to do something digitally? NFC tag requires proximity so maybe you have to distress the site or leave your mark in order to open it on your phone
      • needs to balance between being easy and inviting enough for people passing by and also hard enough that you have to actually leave some noticeable trace to contribute
  • community fridges, plug into where people already are and what they’re already doing
  • offer the community the ability to “sacralize” an ordinary place. Turn a telephone pole into a spot that people come to just for that
    • (Wind sculpture)
    • geocaching, tiny little box magnetized to the pole — innocuous space where people can make it their own
    • shared journal where people come in and talk about their feelings, a scream into the void, but there’s an increased intimacy knowing that people share this same local space as you?
      • can also use to flirt / leave love letters to people in your neighborhood
    • how can a shrine counteract the idols of Productivity, Optimization, and Efficiency?
  • a subversion of how much of a religion technology has become where people are
  • neighborhood dialogues via sites of participation and sharing
    • e.g. poetry drawer
  • neighborhood chicken coop had an app to feed the chickens

how it would work

small structures embedded into innocuous locations in neighborhood (telephone pole, stoop, park bench, side of a tree). Places where people are already passing through / gathering incidentally.

base structure

  • DIY phone holder with NFC tag and a website that is the gathering place


  • raspberry pi 0 + small e-ink screen?
  • raspberry pi 0 w + connect to public wifi in area (or home’s wifi if right outside in your neighborhood) + some sort of input device (microphone, pressure sensor, fingerprint, heartbeat, small camera, a single button that cycles through letters for keyboard like old flip phones)
  • multiple sensors for taking in environmental data that changes the experience

open questions

  • how to get power? battery that i have to go manually replace regularly? solar-powered battery?
  • how to discourage / prevent tampering?
  • how to be as minimal / cheap as possible?
  • how to open-source the methodology and empower people in other neighborhoods to create their own shrines?

Shrine examples

  • leave fingerprints / drawing / something that caught your eye on your walk
  • shared journal / worldoftext / party in a google doc
  • shared picture log
  • memorial to loved ones (e.g. “who do you love right now?“)
  • a dedication to paying attention
  • lore / bard - submit stories of things in the neighborhood
  • cuckoo clock that comes up very small
  • communal clock where people log moments that matter to them
    • collective countdowns, submit your countdown and it activates