Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bottle on a beach

A bottle made of shells on a beach made of pixels.

What a connected world it is in which we dwell. Billions of text messages flash from phone to phone, from mind to mind, in moments - each moment of the day.

Friends and relatives, those whom you friend at least, can keep up with your every move, every mood and even contribute scribbles on your very wall. A virtual wall, that is, so no damage done. So it is that Facebook keeps us in touch with one another.

With our tweets we cast thoughts (or tweets) out into the ocean of our followers, or re-tweet (remembering to include the RT prefix so others know of the forwarding) to forward those that catch our fancy.

I came across another communication mechanism recently. It differs from the above-mentioned mechanisms in one specific way. It is entirely unknown to whom many of your messages will be delivered.

Distant Shore is an application for the iPhone by the same people who created the Koi Pond application for the same device. While the Koi application is only for the pleasure of the iPhone owner, bringing the peace of a pond to the handheld device, Distant Shore establishes communication, of a sort between iPhone users.

The application shows a beach, endlessly stretching to the right and to the left. You, the user, "walk" (leaving bare footprints in the sand) along the beach looking for shells, or bottles. Five shells turn into an empty bottle in the your inventory. Of more interest are the bottles that may be found on the beach.

Such a bottle contains a message, written by another user of Distant Shore. There is no indication whence the message comes, nor when it was thrown into the ocean that laps against the beach. It's just a random message, written by someone with an iPhone, that washed up on your beach.

Your can write your own message, using the empty bottles you gain by finding five shells and then toss it into the ocean - to later wash up on someone else's beach.

The application also allows for replying directly to a message, thus establishing a more conventional style of message/response.

There is something oddly attractive about this. The graphics, to be expected of the people who wrote the Koi Pond application, are smooth and appealing. The idea itself, also appealing, though I don't see it becoming the next Twitter.


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