Joel Simon

15 May 2014

I made this last week and forgot to post it here

Tweet : “A Chrome Extension that allows any post or photo on Facebook to be publicly drawn over.”


FB Graffiti is a chrome extension that exposes every wall post and photo on Facebook to graffiti. 

All drawings are:

  • Public (for everyone else with the extension).
  • Anonymous (completely).
  • Permanent (no undo or erase options). 

The purpose of FB Graffiti is twofold. First, to enable a second layer of conversation on top of Facebook. The highly controlled and curated nature of conversations on Facebook is not conducive to many forms of conversation and also not analogous to real ‘walls.’ For better or worse, anonymous writings allow this.
Second, it allows any image to be a space for collaborative art that is deeply connected to its context (the page it is on and the content it is on).  Wandering Facebook can now be a process of discovery, coming across old artworks and conversations scattered across all of the site.


I went through a lot of ideas for this project and a lot of uncertainty if I would find a project I liked. I wanted something that would be an online tool that could be sharable and involve facebook. This was, of course, after spending 2 weeks on the faceboook phrenology idea and 2 weeks before that on an online collaborative sculpture program. Each of those ideas actually had decent progress, including full ngram generation from all fb messages for the phrenology idea. I had the idea to create a full 3d living creature that would be built out of your fb div elements using webgl css3d rendering.  Once I got complete control of facebook in 3d I got really excited because I knew that had not been done before and I had just stumbled into a lot of potential. After working through some 3d ideas such as a museum generator or games I realized that 3d was actually holding me back since it was a lot of complexity for not much gain (the internet is in 2 dimensions for many reasons). I realized I had been distracted by the technics of implementation and had to go back to the meaning of what I was doing. I gave myself the restriction of still using facebook otherwise I was at step 0.

I decided to look at the basic analogies of facebook and try to build from there. That’s when I began to think about the ‘wall’ analogy and how to expand it. I thought about poster covered walls and how those are different than their virtual counterpart. I had also recently watched a documentary about graffiti and its history in NY which a good way to ground my thinking in the history of graffiti.

Our walls on facebook are very curated, polished and non anonymous. All of these descriptors are polar opposites the ‘real’ walls which are exposed, unprotected and anonymous places. I wanted to bring that vulnerability of the real world to facebook. Obviously the quality of the content is going to be mostly poor (penises). However, by giving it to members of this class on the first day I was able to see a lot of really great content come out of it. I am totally ok if only  a minority of the pieces are creative collaborative works if the rest of them are still fun and non-destructive.

I have been working hard the last two weeks to improve it. I redid all the logging yesterday to use a dedicated database and have been working hard to try and have the ability to share the drawings directly from FB. There are a lot of technical challenges there. I look forward to improving FB-Graffiti all summer.