Riot: Alternative web browser / Research Critique (Week 5)

Riot (1999), by Mark Napier, is an alternative Web browser that constructs its pages by merging text, images and working links from recent pages that the Riot user has surfed. The composite then appears on a single page, with overlapping text and imagery in a haphazard arrangement. The browser can accommodate up to a total of three different sites compositions, with a unique composition per browser refresh.

A screenshot of Riot, compositing the web pages Zalora, Laneige and Newnation
A screenshot of Riot, compositing the web pages Zalora, Laneige and Newnation

Definitely, Riot fits the definition of glitch, as interpreted by Rosa Menkman as,

…a (actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error.
– Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)

On two different spectrums, Riot deconstructs:
1. visual imagery and text arrangement on the webpage; and
2. the idea of a singular web surfing experience

Shattering Boundaries: Physical and Digital
In allowing multiple sites to flow together, Riot forcefully expands the virtual environment – sites are no longer constrained within their physical boundaries of the digital medium. Traditional ideas of ownership, territory and authority, already transgressed by the new form of the web (where a percentage of online content has a shared viewership and authority), is further probed: through Riot, it becomes a public space.

The dismantling of browser arrangement in Riot can be perceived as an error to the everyday user; conversely, this ‘error’ also exposes the lack of control users have on the net. Despite the conviction that users are gradually having greater autonomy on the net, they are ultimately still subject to the set web environment. Only after experiencing the have-not, then do they realise what they are privileged with – ultimately a human condition of not being able to appreciate what they already have. As such, glitches can be used to,

…bring any medium into a critical state of hypertrophy, to (subsequently) criticize its inherent politics
– Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)

[i] Menkman, R. (2011) “Glitch Moment(um),” Institute of Network Cultures

Project Proposal 1: Who’s using your phone in the toilet?!

The formulation of this idea was based on my previous idea, the brushing of teeth, and influenced by iknowwhereyourcatlives. In my previous idea, I wanted to touch on the weariness brought about by repetition, and pull in an element of fun into this boring activity. However, I decided to focus on a different activity with a longer duration instead, which many do but most are shy (or not) to admit. Thus, I changed my idea to the usage of phones when one is sitting on the toilet, while answering’s nature’s call.

According to a survey commissioned by Kleenex, 3 in 4 Singaporeans use mobile phones in the toilet. Phones are then used to play games, watch videos, or even answer calls. However, bringing your phone into the bathroom, an unsanitary location, could risk bacteria and germ contamination. Of which, only an estimated 2 per cent sanitise their phones after doing the deed.

In Singapore, as part of a shyer Asian culture, where toilet talk is generally avoided, it would be interesting to bring this lesser-discussed topic to the surface. After all, revealing ‘secrets’ is a very exciting thing. I would like to utilise the world wide web as a medium for my idea.



Data is first extracted from twitter live streams for discourse analysis. Users who upload both hashtags (#phone, #toilet), or include in their twitter updates the phrase “toilet” and ‘phones” will pinpointed. Next, these statistics are compiled, and displayed visually as per below:



Each time a user uses the key words, a single dot will appear on the website screen. There is a timestamp at the bottom: hence, we can visually pick out which timings are users (who update twitter) most often on the toilet. Using mouseclick, the website user can interact with the dots on the website, which can be dragged around the screen. The website user is able to manually manipulate the data on the site.


Areas where more dots coagulate, the background will turn towards a redder shade.


In order to view other timeframes, users can point their mouse right/leftwards, and scroll to other timelines.