1000 words was created as a design exercise. The goal was to design a system to help people manage their picture libraries more delightful, more engaging, and more seamless, because we can never have too many ways to do the same thing.
I did some observations of and interviews with several peers to get a sense for how they manage their photos, particularly on their phones. Some people relied on their computers, while others relied on the cloud the manage both. Either way, everyone organized their pictures in taxonomic and heirarchal folders, but everyone still navigated through these structures as though it were a learned, and not natural, process.
The people interviewed and observed all had one thing in common: their relation with their photos involved more than one keyword, but none of them saw existing management solutions as being effective or simple. The process of having to manually populate tags was cumbersome, and automatic tagging systems weren't always accurate or sensical.
However, everyone always had a story to tell about their pictures, and these stories often had common key words that could be leveraged as metadata.
So 1000 Words was designed to use storytelling to not only help people engage with their pictures and memories but also generate tags and metadata while doing so, similar to how applications like Moves uses a timeline to encourage users to track where they've been.
Ultimately, the goal became to design a system that merged the rigidity of a taxomony with the fluidity of a folksonomy while masking the process of fulfilling either behind a storytelling format.
By leveraging existing technologies, frameworks, and APIs, 1000 Words not only tries to get users started by pre-populating data that it has permissible access to, such as location data and calendar events, but also prompts users to fill in the gaps and correct mislabeled data by turning each picture into an actual story.
The use of a Mad Libs format shifts the process from being about categorizing the picture to being about describing the picture. Attributes from that description, from where and when it was taken to who and what is in the picture, become tags that can be used by social networks and other photography services; these tags also form the navigational structure for users to browse through.
Telling the story of each photograph is optional so that users aren't encumbered by the process; they can choose to engage if they want to, and 1000 Words is designed to make that process more rewarding and delightful.