A new messaging service by Miranda July
Texting is tacky. Calling is awkward. Email is old.
On August 28th Miranda July unveils a new way to communicate: Somebody — an app created with support from Miu Miu, available in the iTunes store as a free download (iOS only).
When you send your friend a message through Somebody, it goes — not to your friend — but to the Somebody user nearest your friend. This person (probably a stranger) delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app launched at the Venice Film Festival along with a short companion film, part of Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series.
Since Somebody is brand new early adapters are integral to its creation — the most high-tech part of the app is not in the phone, it’s in the users who dare to deliver a message to stranger. “I see this as far-reaching public art project, inciting performance and conversation about the value of inefficiency and risk,” says July.
Somebody works best with a critical mass of users in a given area; colleges, workplaces, parties and concerts can become Somebody hotspots simply by designating themselves as one (details on somebodyapp.com).
Official Somebody hotspots so far include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with a presentation by Ms. July on Sept. 11), The New Museum (presentation on Oct. 9), Yerba Buena Center for The Arts (San Francisco), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and Museo Jumex (Mexico City.) Museum-goers are invited to send and deliver messages in these spaces where there are likely to be other users.
With Miu Miu’s support, July worked closely with designer Thea Lorentzen and a team of developers at the award winning Stinkdigital to create the complex, GPS-based messaging system. Half-app / half-human, Somebody twists our love of avatars and outsourcing —every relationship becomes a three-way. 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.
“When you can’t be there…Somebody can.”
Visit somebodyapp.com for movie, media kit and details.
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• Add actions and directions for your stand-in, such as [crying] or [hug] — or write your own.
• The recipient always has the option of declining a delivery before it’s set in to motion, if now’s not a good time.
• The first sentence of the message is automatically “[Recipient’s name]? It’s me, [Sender’s Name]” — reminding the stand-in to assume the identity of the sender.
• Somebody™ uses GPS to locate your friend and users nearby, then presents you with photos and performance ratings so you can choose the best possible delivery person for your message.
If there’s no one nearby, you can choose to “float” your message indefinitely. Users interested in being a stand-in can browse nearby floating messages and pick one to deliver.