PixTrak, aka the Dan Smith Will Teach You Rock & Blues Guitar Tracker

20060211T052146My mobile app will be a MMS game dedicated to New York City bulletin-board guitar legend, Dan Smith.For the uninitiated, Dan Smith has been teaching guitar in New York City for a long long time. I was struck by how often I see his flyers posted around the city – and I wondered, how much does this guy get around? Is it just the East Village, where I usually see these posters, or even the Upper East Side, where I’ve seen a couple as well. I think lots of New Yorkers must know this Dan Smith guy, even if they’ve never taken a lesson from him. There’s a hidden sense of community lurking behind the bold print and black and white photography: this guy lives in MY city.

So the object of the ‘game’ is to find and record as many Dan Smith posters as possible. The player will take a picture using their cameraphone, and then send it via MMS or email to ds@pixtrak.com, including the location of the poster. They will then receive a response indicating:

  1. if they were the first to discover this poster
  2. if this poster has been spotted before, and if so by how many others
  3. if there are nearby posters that have also been spotted
  4. how hot or cold they are in their quest for Dan Smith!

The user can also send a text message with the word “stats” to find out their ranking, based on the number of posters they’ve discovered, including total number of posters they’ve tracked.

Another option the player might try is to send the word “challenge” — they will be MMS’ed a message back that will challenge them to find the same poster location. If they find the same poster location and send back a photo with the correct address, they will get bonus points to increase their ranking. The challenge will remain active until they text a message “I give up”.
Users will then be able to visit a website from their computer (or mobile browser) to see the complete collection (or just their own) of Dan Smith poster sightings plotted on a Google Map.

Ultimately this is more of a collaborative art project than a game, because Dan Smith will keep putting up new posters in new locations — the goal is to collect as many as you can, sharing with other New Yorkers the secret community built around your awareness of the city you travel in.


The query language is quite simple:
send a message to ds@pixtrak.com

  • @[street address or intersection]
    in the subejct or body of an MMS indicates where the picture was taken
  • stats
    in the body of an SMS will send back a message with your current ranking and pix spotted.
  • challenge
    in the body of an SMS initiates a challenge; an MMS response with a pic for you to spot
  • i give up
    in the body of an SMS cancels your challenge.


Users will enter their location using a street address and location; we will then scrape either a Google or Yahoo map query for the geocode and store it in the database. Since the game will be Manhattan focused, we will default to Manhattan searches (see GarbageScout’s implementation).
We will store the geocode in the database to allow for later mapping on the accompanying website.


click to enlarge:

Command Tree wireframenew message wireframe
PixTrak: Dan Smith Tracker pdf

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