August 14, 2014


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To ascertain the feasibility of building a prototype of a software engine that automatically creates a video life story from an individual’s social media content.
Protagonist is a practical attempt to make sense of our vast stashes of personal data in a human, emotional, narrative way. Using their own social media content, we want to create a short film memoir of an individual – with the output feeling meaningful, personalised, beautiful and potentially provocative. And we want to see if we can create this using an automated process.
Our ambition was that the Protagonist service will be a commercial, stand-alone, direct-to-consumer product, but will also be used within the Afterlife Retreat (a large-scale residential theatre event The Other Way Works are planning for 2016).

To produce a design fiction film
To produce a technical specification for the software build

An attractive design fiction film to illustrate the potential of the service. Working closely with an animator we have produced a film with a crafted, hand-made aesthetic, which is unique in the marketplace.
A Requirements document based on our research, to inform the Technology Feasibility Studies/Specifications.
Technology Feasibility Studies/Specifications from two independent software consultants/agencies demonstrating different approaches.
A summary of responses from our market research questionnaire.

Key Learning Outcomes
Building a prototype is feasible, and could be done for c£40,000.
Some adjustments would need to be made to the Specification, including reducing the range of social media feeds, and streamlining the processes that identify meaningfulness of the content to the user.
Music to soundtrack the video is a key component, with as much impact as the visual style. Rights and licensing cause a problem here, meaning that people can’t just have their favourite song to accompany the video. A selection of rights-free music would need to be offered, which mitigates the problem, but doesn’t solve it.
Construction of narrative from online data poses an extremely complex computing problem, which is just starting to be explored by digital giants such as Google and Facebook. It would be very difficult to compete in this marketplace currently.

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