A flyer for a Sherlock Hack that gathered storytellers, game designers, makers and hackers in the fall of 2016 to design and build a massive connected crime scene at Lincoln Center.
Title: Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things
Type of Project: Immersive Storytelling + Massive Collaboration
My Role: Co-creator, Creative Director & Experience Designer
Emergent Technology: AI, Machine Learning & IoT
Project Description: Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is an ongoing prototype developed and run by the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab that explores new forms and functions of storytelling. Designed to be an open R&D space (released under a creative commons license) that experiments with shifts in authorship and ownership of stories, the massive collaboration also uses a detective narrative to examine the policy and ethical issues surrounding the Internet of Things and emergent technologies.
The goal of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is to encourage participants to step into a collaborative framework that enables them to create 21st Century adaptations of the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. These “forked” projects use Sherlock Holmes as a jumping off point. To date a number of spinoff projects and prototypes have been created. From escape the room games to team building frameworks to high school educational programs to card games to connected objects that tell stories to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality games and applications – Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things has provided a foundation for open creativity.
Partners: Columbia University, IBM, the Film Society of Lincoln Center & the Made in NY Media Center by IFP
Official site: sherlockholmes.io
Stats: 2,500+ collaborators, 60+ countries and 150+ self-organized events held around the world
What people are saying:
On one hand Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things is a collaborative storytelling game. On the other it is an exploration of how the devices that make up our increasingly connected world can be used to do that most human of things: tell stories… As the line between the real world and the digital continues to blur methods of navigating that divide are going to become more important. What better way is there to lay a foundation for those kinds of negotiations than through play?
– HUFFINGTON POST
Story Thinking: how Sherlock Holmes can help us understand and embrace emergent technologies
In the fall of 2014 we launched an ambitious collaborative storytelling experiment with an impromptu gathering of storytellers, game designers, makers and hackers. Initially it all started with a simple mashup of two things that ignited our imaginations — “Sherlock Holmes” & “the Internet of Things.” At that point in time a large number of works by Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, had just entered the public domain. Meanwhile the buzz of IoT, with its promise of everything rapidly connecting to the cloud, had experienced numerous fits and starts. However Google’s acquisition of Nest (a smart thermostat company) for $3.2 billion in cash put IoT front and center in 2014. Overtime Nest would come crashing back to earth as changes in leadership and struggles to evolve within Google continue to prove difficult for both companies. The Internet of Things like many emergent technologies struggles to find meaning within the marketplace. While IoT points to a strange Harry Potterfication of the world where everyday objects take on seemingly magical powers, it is difficult for us to fully understand how the technology can bring true value to our lives.
However the notion that objects could become enchanted thus enabling narrative to spill off screens and into the real-world presents a unique opportunity to explore a 21st Century adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle himself was making sense of new emergent technologies and processes such as ballistics, fingerprints, blood testing and non-contaminated crime scenes as he serialized the trials and tribulations of Holmes and Watson. In fact his fiction introduced and helped popularize numerous techniques that informed the cornerstone of forensics that we depend on today.
What if by examining the works of Sherlock Holmes we could gain a better understanding of the emergent technology that surrounds us today?
Over the last 2 1/2 years Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things has grown to over 2,500 collaborators in 60+ countries. The project has forked numerous times as participants have built upon its foundation in an effort to create projects, programs and prototypes. From immersive storytelling experiences to escape the room games to VR and AR apps to enchanted objects powered by IoT to educational programs — Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things has helped to establish the space for a massive online/offline collaboration. Since 2015 there have been more than 150 self-organized events around the world.
Come Join a Global Storytelling Experiment
Starting in the Spring of 2017 teams from around the world will ideate, design and prototype a 21st Century adaption of Sherlock Holmes that embraces a set of core principles. A prototype could be a game, an immersive storytelling experience, an enchanted object powered by IoT, a sherlock AI bot, an AR or VR project, a learning program for youth and/or an experience that makes social impact. The choice is up to you. Everyone is welcome and this year we’re experimenting with an open door policy. What that means is you can drop into the experience at any point. To find out more checkout this quickstart guide.