unCAPTCHA

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The inspiration for this project came from the CAPTCHA, a challenge-response test often used on websites to verify that the user is a human, not an internet bot. The CAPTCHA often displays a distorted nonsensical string of text that the user must enter into a field in order to advance forward on the site. More distinct versions of the CAPTCHA might be tests with images that the user must trace, or actual words. For example, a service called reCAPTCHA pulls its words from old copies of the New York Times and Google Books, so that the viewer is helping to digitize these old copies. Whatever the design, a CAPTCHA exists to verify a user's identity. 

The acronym CAPTCHA is based on the word "capture" and stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."

Fascinated by this idea, I chose to use the CAPTCHA as a means to ask the following question: What does it mean to be human in the digital age? 

Using Photoshop, I morphed a collection of words so that they resembled something one might find in an actual CAPTCHA. For example:

 

Then, using HTML tips collected from the Internet, I designed a site at uncaptcha.tumblr.com, where I set up a series of CAPTCHAs.

The result is an experience of trying to affirm one's identity by communicating with the CAPTCHA.

The words and phrases present various computer-human interactions and the user must communicate these in order to continue in the site.

Ultimately the user does not advance in the site because the CAPTCHA cannot confirm that she is human.

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