Peer To Peer Bodystorming

Exercise Peer to Peer Bodystorming

Initially developed 02.2008 with Jamie Allen (

What are the goals:

  • To bodystorm models of P2P-based and node-based topologies

(Bodystorming: You get up and move, trying things out with your own body as a technique in interaction design or as creativity technique: to imagine what it would be like if the product existed, and act as though it exists)

  • What acts and 'feels' p2p, versus those that act and feel like 'central server' networks
  • Use a virtual artefact (in this case chorus from a song) as data which is incrementally downloaded/shared.

Social matrix:

  • Work collectively (split into 3 or 4 groups if large number) to tackle different generations of P2P networks.


1 hr 15 mins


  • Choose a song chorus which you will use as data to download/share
  • Find its media version to play while doing bodystorm exercise (eg mp3 or youtube)
  • Get enough post-it notes, paper and pens for everyone
  • Each person is given a bundle of post-it notes (each post-it note represents one word)
  • Look up lyrics from song, write individual words from one chorus of song onto post it notes.

Introduction (5 mins)

  • Introduce vocabulary:

TOPOLOGY The 'topology' of the network refers to the arrangement of the network, in terms of routing points and end points.

PROTOCOL is the set of rules and behaviors agreed upon between senders and receivers, so that data transfer can take place.

SERVER is an application, or device that performs services for connected clients as part of a client-server architecture

CLIENT is an application or system that accesses a (remote) service on another computer system known as a server by way of a network. The term was first applied to

AD-HOC is a type of network that is created and destroyed momentarily for a specific purpose (eg.: a file transfer)

  • Introduce 4 generations of P2P networks, begininning with Server-Client version as follows:

First P2P generation: server-client
Second P2P generation: decentralization
Third P2P generation: indirect and encrypted
Fourth P2P generation: streams over P2P

Give out notes for reference if no Internet access to research online.

Activity (15 mins)

  1. Act out the server-client version so that every has an idea of what is involved.
  2. Find or clear a space, have at least one chair available
  3. Each person finds a position in the room within 5-10 steps from the centre.
  4. Put one chair in the middle and designate it to be the server, with a serving person
  5. What happens when you download a file from a website:

You open a Web page and click a link to download a file to your computer.

The Web browser software on your computer (the client) tells the server (a central computer that holds the Web page and the file you want to download) to transfer a copy of the file to your computer.

The transfer is handled by a protocol (a set of rules), such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol).

Ethernet (hardware) has become the standard way that many 'clients' in a network can talk to 'servers'. This allows many people to access one data repository, multi-directionally (upload and download).

Now everyone is a client (C).
They have one copy of their sentence, and cannot make their own copies.

Only the server (S) can make copies.

The server is stationed at the center of a circle of transmitters and receivers.
All the sentences are given to him/her.

The clients need to collect these sentences from the server, who can make copies, by making single requests.

Following a set protocol:

1) approach server node, and request a download (word)

2) receive a single word, and return with it to their own node

3) re-request

  1. Stop when at least half of group have managed to get their whole chorus
  2. Organise into groups to develop bodysessions
  3. Each group is allocated a 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation of P2P networks
  4. Spend 15 mins together devising an appropriate to bodystorm that generation of network
  5. Act out each network from the groups

Discussion (15 mins)

What did we learn from each other?

  • What social experiences are like p2p networks (eg.: gossip)?
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