You are most likely a stranger to me. Imagine if we could follow each other’s lives anonymously, in real time. I would know when you got up, you’d know when I went to bed. You would know when I was on a road trip, I would know how long it takes you to cycle to work. It would be weird, but it would be interesting, and I’m sure we’d form a bond of some kind.
The app 20 Day Stranger, was created by MIT’s Playful Systems Group. It syncs up two people to become intertwined in each other’s lives from afar. For every day of the 20 day commitment, each person gets messages telling them tidbit details about their new friend’s life, down to the weather outside. Kevin Slavin, director of the Playful System’s group says:
“20 Day Stranger is an iPhone app that reveals intimate, shared connections between two anonymous individuals. It's a mobile experience that exchanges one person's experience of the world with another's, while preserving anonymity on both sides.
For 20 days, you and a stranger will experience the world in your own way, together. You'll never know who it is or exactly where they are, but we hope it will reveal enough about someone to build your imagination of their life... and more broadly, the imagination of strangers everywhere.”
On the 20th day you get the chance to send one 400 character message.
This app raises interesting questions about our connections, our expectations, and our banal human existence. We normally go about our daily lives preoccupied with people and things in our regular orbit and rarely connect with people outside of our safe microcosm of friends and family who share many of our views, expectations, and experiences. Our online lives on social media are spent connecting with people we already know, for the most part. This is why we read novels.
This app is like one of those fictional characters coming to life. If you’ve got an iPhone, apply to participate while the app is still testing here.