WHITE RABBIT / unkn0wn

Final Project by Markus Santner
Germany 2018 | Data analysis project and alternate reality experience
Multi-platform online and offline

Vision statement
White Rabbit explores entry points into a storyworld, known as rabbit holes. By analyzing and evaluating mechanics and technology in combination with narrative elements, the project investigates how to get users’ attention and hook them into an experience. For this purpose, the experience unkn0wn is created, focusing on rabbit holes. The findings should serve as a reference to derive guidelines for designing effective doorways into storyworlds.

White Rabbit is a data analysis project that extends the concept of a rabbit hole: usually a rabbit hole consists of only the very first entry point of a transmedia experience, but for research purposes additional touch points and an exit point are added to track the effectiveness of one rabbit hole. Therefore, one rabbit hole consists of minimum one entry, one touch and one exit point.
The length of one rabbit hole is approximately four to five weeks; this is the time a user has to go through the entry, touch and exit points. Playtime of one rabbit hole is approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the engagement level; this is the time a user spends with the storyworld by interacting with it.
The rabbit holes are analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively and evaluated according to following characteristics: aesthetics, motivation, emotion, immersion, engagement, flow, agency.
The project is set up in iterations, whereas the first iteration serves as a showcase and prototype for future developments. For White Rabbit’s first iteration, one rabbit hole is created, with five entry points leading to three touch points and one exit point.

unkn0wn is an alternate reality experience that takes the user on a journey into the world of data-mining technologies. The user becomes involved in a hidden reality that unfolds around him and makes visible what otherwise would have stayed hidden; algorithms and how they track, identify and classify us. unkn0wn combines facts about the current development of big data and algorithms into a fictional storyworld, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. It is a pervasive experience that disrupts the participants’ lives and triggers a different point of view and understanding of surrounding data profiling mechanisms. The interactive narrative uses the real world as a platform and delivers a story that can be influenced by the players’ actions. By interacting with characters from the story, finding clues, overcoming challenges, solving puzzles, and collaborating with others online and in the real world, the participant follows a narrative through different kinds of media.
Each interaction is tracked, data is collected and a comprehensive profile of each participant is composed. The more one interacts, the more holistic the profile becomes. In the end, this profile works like a mirror, revealing how participants are seen by the system and how their data is used against them and how they are being manipulated.
The experience is aimed towards people with a critical mindset and a natural curiosity. Questions are raised about how algorithms shape and manipulate the users’ perception . It encourages them to rethink their role in a system of data collection and enables them to develop skills to reclaim some agency in our monitored world.