Strangers will verbally deliver your messages with this app (Wired UK)


Somebody/Miranda July


 No matter how many emoticons you
use, messaging apps, for the most part, remain a rather impersonal
form of communication that fall somewhere between email and phone
calls on the formality scale.

Artist and actress Miranda July is hoping to change this with
her new messaging app Somebody, which will send your
missives not directly to your friend, but to a nearby human
stranger who will relay the message verbally to its intended
recipient.

While the app is very much a real piece of technology, it is
also a far-reaching public art project that to some extent involves
the sender replacing their avatar with a real-life messenger, who
is being directed in a mini performance. On the app’s website, July
describes Somebody as: “The antithesis of the utilitarian
efficiency that tech promises, here, finally, is an app that makes
us nervous, giddy, and alert to the people around us.”

To send a message you select a friend from within the app and
that friend will respond letting you know whether or not it is a
good time for them. You then write out your note and add
instructions and actions, to help your messenger get the delivery
just right. You’ll be able to select a nearby messenger to be your
stand-in by looking at their picture, their likes, their reviews
and their ratings. Your friend and stand-in will be sent each
other’s pictures and locations so they can find one another. Once
your message has been delivered, you will be notified.

July came up with the concept of the app in March this year and
worked with a designer and a team of digital designers to make it
happen. Accompanying the app is a film that is part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales
series
.

The app works best when more people around you are using it, and
so to improve adoption, artistic institutions around the world –
but mostly based in the US — are acting as hotspots for
interactions. You can also create your own hotspots and Somebody
will help you spread the word about it. Recommended locations
include universities, workplaces, birthday parties and
concerts.

Obviously Somebody is not the most efficient messaging app out
there, but that’s hardly the point. To those out there who wonder
why they wouldn’t just send a text instead, July says:
“Unpredictable, undocumented, fleeting interactions with strangers
can bring great joy and inspiration! Pretending to be someone else
is liberating. The feeling is a little like Truth or Dare and
Charades.” And if that isn’t reason enough to give it a go, we
don’t know what it is.

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29 August 2014 | 2:13 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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