Today, a new social media platform gets unleashed to the public. And it’s called Hyperpublic. Why is this interesting? Well first, it’s architectural–Hyperpublic wants users to map the physical world around them through pictures and text so that everyone else can discover the richness of the urban fabric around us.
In fact, founder Jordan Cooper of JumpPost sees a direct link between the mission behind both Untapped New York and Hyperpublic: “Untapped New York does an amazing job of surfacing the hidden gems and unknown elements in our backyards. Hyperpublic is built under the same premise. Any user can snap a photo on their phone, mail it to email@example.com, and immediately surfaces their discoveries for other locals to find.” And it’s not just for places–you can find things from shoes to apartments, or locate that person you saw on the subway–finally an update to Craigslist’s missed connections.
Second, the experience is defined by you. On Facebook, your online environment is dictated by the networks you are a member of, but the networks are defined by who’s in it rather than by what the place or organization is actually like. This is the root of the privacy problem–space is defined by other users, known or unknown, corporate or individual. Moreover, the online space doesn’t reflect the architecture of the real space, it’s just the universal layout that Facebook has dictated your information to be displayed in. Hyperpublic takes this idea and flips it–they want you to define your own “hyperlocations”–and upload your interpretation of the city. By doing so, you share those untapped locales with the public. So the spaces are defined by you, the experience is for you and for everyone else. So don’t be alarmed, that’s what they mean by “public”–to take what you think is cool and offer it to everyone else.We fear this word “public” because Facebook has come to define the antonym, “privacy.” The etymology of the word public originally just meant, “of the people.” And in a way, Hyperpublic aims to bring back that retro definition of “public” from its days in the Roman forum. The goal is to open up the possibilities of social media–both conceptually and physically–for the people.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook succeeds in gathering and organizing data for our personal consumption precisely because the architecture of the website is universal and visually simple. For this type of data structuring, Facebook is relevant, useful and brilliant. But sometimes, we want to just reflect the beautiful chaos that’s around us because our DNA tells us that there’s an underlying meaning to it. Designers, programmers, architects and urban theorists have been trying for decades to create a utopian virtual space. But looking at Hyperpublic, I just realized they’ve been getting it wrong–we don’t want a sanitized version of our lives, we don’t want to be told how to structure the spaces we inhabit, nor do we want to play Sim-City anymore, creating new cities “lot by lot and cell by cell,” in an attempt to rationalize and patternize urban space. The most amazing thing I learned recently is that not only does urban population reflect Zipf’s law (the largest city in a country is always 2x greater than the next largest, and so on), but also that by mapping the distribution of lights from global satellite images, Columbia University researchers discovered that human settlement follows Zipf’s law even outside political boundaries. This means that even amongst the seeming disorder of our daily lives, we are unconsciously bound to some rational order–and if my hunch is right, Hyperpublic may be the first platform to discover what this means on a micro-scale.
Join Hyperpublic today and tell us what you think!
 David Grahame Shane. Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory.” West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2005: 33