When a little message popped up in the bottom right-hand corner of my screen saying “Hello, tall girl,” I screamed. I say “around” because I deleted so many of them immediately (having them sit in my inbox felt contaminating) that I cannot report with scientific precision the exact count. I actually think it makes me decidedly un-special, because to many of the messages’ authors I was clearly no more than one more female-looking thing who might be intrigued by the dashing brevity of a message reading only “sup?
I had myself signed in to chat accidentally, because I didn’t even realize it was there. In a month on Ok Cupid, I received around 130 messages.
In the case of my editor, Crystal's dossier was surprisingly accurate: "Joe is an achiever: fast-paced, ambitious, and persuasive, so get to the bottom line and don't feel insulted by a direct or blunt comment." When speaking to him, it told me to use words like "done," "absolutely," and "it's taken care of." In email, it recommended limiting my message to three sentences and stating my purpose clearly in the first line.
Lauren Mc Carthy and Kyle Mc Donald took these ideas a step further with Pplkpr, an app that uses biometric signals sort the real life acquaintances that invigorate you from those that aren't worth your time.
Pplkpr is satire—it's funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts—but it seems like an artifact from a plausible, perhaps even likely future.
It wasn't immediately obvious what to do with the technology, but D' Agostino and company eventually arrived at an answer: email.
Beyond letting you look up reports on individuals, paying customers get access to a Chrome extension that puts Crystal's oracular advice right in your inbox.
There's a lot of anxiety involved in sending email, D' Agostino says.
It can be hard to know what sort of greeting to use, or whether to include a joke. Clicking the "Be brief" button pulled up more detailed suggestions, providing specific phrases to use and avoid in that particular scenario.
Crystal even goes so far as to offer a fully-written email template, algorithmically derived for the recipient.
That of course is the dream implicit in all this: A button that sends the perfect email every time.
And such a tool probably could be helpful, say for knowing the person you're sending a job application to hates wordy emails.
But surely there's a point at which algorithmically informed communication curls back around, mobius-strip style, and we end up even more remote and unknowable to each other than we were when we started.
Indeed, a number of artists have explored the contours of this queasy future in recent months.