For the past few months, the first floor of our building has been hosting various art projects. They’ve all been interesting, but none quite as intriguing as the current installation, The Public Isolation Project.

The Public Isolation Project is a collaboration between Joshua-Jay Elliot and Cristin Norine, and the theme they are exploring is the impact of social media on our lives. The basic premise is that Cristin is living on our first floor, completely surrounded by glass, for the month of November. She can only communicate with people outside of her box via social media, including text messaging, instant messaging, video chat, Twitter, Facebook and the like. She can also gesture and yell at people through her glass walls, but she can’t make phone calls and she can’t have any physical or face to face interaction with anyone.  She’s blogging about her experience here, and it’s been interesting to see the progression.

Since we’re working in the same building as Cristin, we’ve quickly made friends with her and keep track of how things are going. She’s been a great neighbor, and we can’t wait until the 30th when we’ll get to have a drink with her in person. I’m writing about her because I think what she is doing is an interesting contrast to what I’m doing on this blog.

Cristin is essentially making social media her only form of communication, which means she’s inviting the chaos of the digital world to take the place of normal human interaction. She’s hoping to get an idea of how much of this we’ve already done (quite a bit I’d say) and how much of our lives just don’t translate to the internet (again, I hope it’s a lot!). Coincidentally, at the very same time, I’m trying to improve my ability to focus and concentrate, which so far has meant figuring out ways to limit my exposure to social media because it is so disruptive.

In her blog, Cristin has talked about how she feels constantly distracted in the past, but tonight she wrote a really great post about how multi-tasking isn’t working for her. It’s a strange overlap for my tiny project here, and I’m really excited to see if she’s able to uni-task while using social media in the way that she’s doing right now. My strategy so far has been to eliminate or limit streams, but her strategy will be to focus on one at a time. I don’t think that would work for me, so I’m hoping she can pull it off.

If you’re not already following the PIP, I encourage you to do so. She’s got about 10 more days in the room, and the blog entries and photos she’s posting are great (this is her best photo so far, obviously). I’m interested to find out if Cristin comes out of this experience more connected to the world through the internet, or whether she finds some of it distasteful after this.

Oh, and remember how I said I had culled my Facebook friends list down to 431? After a second pass, I’m down to 403. Hopefully I’ll be under 400 before long!