Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Friday, August 04, 2006
 
Popularity Dialer

ToastyKen sent me this amusing link: A web-service that places a prescheduled callt o your phone (most likely your cell phone) with a recording of one side of a conversation. Your options are a male friend, a female friend, an affirmation monologue or a boss demanding your immediate return to the office. The idea is that you either need to seem popular, get out of meeting, get some AI companionship, receive a reminder that isn't obviously a reminder, or play hipster pranks on your friends. Listen to the four types of calls if you can.

The idea itself seems obvious in retrospect. Cell phone calls have become acceptable interruptions of pretty much anything, and there are tiny but unsettling shifts in power dynamics that result from someone getting a phone call. Too many is just annoying, but a couple does indicate that a person has other people to talk to and other people to hang out with. It's also a sign of how phone-speakers have gotten really loud--you can no longer fake a call to yourself because people can catch snatches of your conversation. Though I try to step away from the group when I'm taking a call, as much to allow the group to continue its conversation without me as to protect my own privacy.

The affirmation call is silly and should be more creative and contain more pauses. The boss call is funny---the boss irately wants you to come back to the offie to fix a copy machine that is vomiting ink everywhere. It makes me wonder how many hipsters really have Marten-like drone jobs. It's prety useless for me, though--my boss would have to be insane to ask me to cure a hungover copier. I can barely move the monstrous paper tray to fix a jam. The first two calls, however, the male and female friends calling to find out what's up and if you'll hang out, are eerily familiar: overly mellow laughs, the gratuitiouslyinsinuating tone, the generically playful coaxing whine. My friends don't talk like that, but I've certainly overheard a lot of conversations that sound like this. I guess a Saheli-tailored version would insert some extraneous discussion of cephalopods. That would sound pretty authentic.

UPDATE: Cephalopod-oriented half of a conversation for your talking pleasure, courtesy of ToastyKen.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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