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Meet Eater

A real-life plant is watered depending on the amount of social interaction it receives on its Facebook page

Project details

Brief

Entertain visitors and raise awareness of The Edge, a state-funded digital culture centre

Strategy

A garden that lives or dies depending on the amount of interaction it receives in-person and on its Facebook page

Implementation

The plants purr and croon when stroked, and the garden is watered when a visitor posts on its Facebook wall

Deliverables

  • Design installation
  • Facebook page

Client

The Edge at the State Library of Queensland in conjunction with the University of Queensland

Agency

Studio Farrago
Product Owner

Markets

  • Australia (primary)
  • Global (secondary)

Audience

  1. Brisbane digital natives
  2. International technology media

Lifespan

Launch: 12 May 2010
Retired: 26 November 2010

Outcomes

  • A peak of 9.8k Facebook fans
  • International media attention
  • Increase in facility utilisation

Key technologies

  • Arduino
  • Adobe Flash
  • Facebook Open Graph API
  • Electronics

Artefacts

Concept

The Meet Eater is a design provocation that encourages people to interact and engage with a Facebook page to sustain the life of a real garden of plants.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Installation

By situating the garden to be a social actor in our lives, the installation explores whether it is possible to form an emotional attachment with non-human entities, particularly through the utilisation of online social networking services.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Communication

The installation plays on the adage that plants respond to "talk, attention, and affection" which was popularised in recent times by one of the world's most prominent horticulturalists, Charles [Prince of Wales] who believes that talking to his plants encourages growth.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Presence

A (thriving) pot plant can be re-visualised as an ambient display of its owners' dedication to its development. A well-kept plant is more significant than a mere ornament for a household; it becomes mapped to its carer's sense of place and understood reality.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Exhibition

The installation was situated at The Edge, a digital culture situated at the State Library of Queensland for the majority of 2010 and presented as an installation at the OzCHI 2010 interaction design conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Outcome

The installation was re-planted with three iterations after drowning in a sea of love and water from an overwhelming amount of social interaction received online. While the former of the two deaths can be credited to over-stimulation and low watering thresholds, the latter death can be attributed to a substantial increase in the number of Facebook fans after the design intervention was published on several social media news blogs and over 45 international news publications.

This time-lapse video shows the first iteration of the garden.

Documentation

The installation was designed and developed by Bashkim Isai as a collaborative effort between the State Library of Queensland and The Edge at the State Library of Queensland.

Results of the design intervention formed the basis for the master thesis Are we [here and] there yet? Exploring Online Profiles in Reality available via the University of Queensland.

Photograph by Jacque Prior

Academic publication

OzCHI 2010

Association for Computing Machinery OzCHI 2010 Conference available via the University of Queensland.

"Meet Eater: Affectionate computing, social networks and human-plant interaction"

Media publications

A selection of articles published about the Meet Eater project

Australia

MX Brisbane
I've planted myself on Facebook

ABC 612 [Radio Interview]
Befriend this plant on Facebook or it will die

ABC News
Plant feeds on Facebook fans

United Kingdom

Wired
Plant watered when it gets Facebook fans dies

The Independent
Meet Eater, the social networking plant that needs your friendship to grow

BBC Click
Meet Eater Video [4:24-5:00]

BBC Mundo
La planta que es alimentada por Facebook

United States

All Facebook
New Plant Relies On Facebook Interactions For Survival

Trend Hunter
Social Media Sustenance - The Meet Eater Plant Survives on Social Interactions With Users

Mashable
Meet the First Plant That Requires Facebook Fans to Survive

Canada

The Star
Garden depends on Facebook fans for nourishment

Your Home
Garden depends on Facebook fans for nourishment

Singapore

Straits Times
FB-fed plant watered to death

Design Taxi
In Australia, a Plant Feeds on Facebook Attention

Germany

Yenodio
Der grüne Facebook - Daumen

TechFieber
Meet Eater: Facebook-Pflanze frisst sich fett an Freunden

Finland

Ilkka
Nettisympatia tukahdutti australialaiskasvin

Iltalehti
Facebook-ruokittu kasvi hoidetaan hengiltä

Spain

Baquia
Una planta (real) que se alimenta gracias a Facebook

Indonesia

Detikinet
Meet Eater, Tanaman yang Butuh Cinta dari Facebooker

Chile

TecnoGrafo
La primera planta que requiere de fans de Facebook para vivir

Brazil

R7
Planta australiana depende de fãs no Facebook e mensagens para sobreviver

Italy

Jacktech
La pianta che vive sul social network

Czech Republic

Zive
Meet Eater: rostlina, která k životu potřebuje vodu, živiny a Facebook

Poland

Gazeta
Roślina, która rośnie tylko dzięki Facebookowi

Russia

РИА Новости
Появился сад, питающийся активностью пользователей Facebook

Exhibitions

  1. The Edge

    State Library of Queensland
    Brisbane, Australia

    Launch: 12 May 2010
    Retired: 21 November 2010
  2. OzCHI 2010

    OzCHI 2010
    Brisbane, Australia

    22nd Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group of Australia on Computer-Human Interaction

    Launch: 22 November 2010
    Retired: 26 November 2010

Collaborators

  • Bashkim Isai
    Product Owner
  • Stephen Viller
    Academic Supervision
  • Jacque Prior
    Photography & Logo Design
  • Avdyl Isai
    Carpentry