slow app

05Apr11

Serendipitor is a tool that helps you to get lost. The app combines directions generated by a routing service with instructions for action and movement. A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points—but it can also be the dullest. This app is helping smartphone users discover the road less traveled encourages users to get lost along the way with the help of location-based technology. “The more we rely on GPS, the less we develop a consciousness of what happens between Point A and Point B,” said Mark Shepard, an assistant professor of architecture and media studies at the University of Buffalo who designed the app. The app also includes suggestions for activities—like sitting under a tree or befriending a neighborhood dog. A number of the activities included in the app ask users to interact with complete strangers—like introducing yourself to the next person you come across or asking bystanders for directions. Serendipitor is nominated for a major international digital arts award, and a reviewer for Wired approvingly said the app combines movement and art into an “alternate reality game.” Building a “notion of serendipity” into the tools we use on a regular basis, such as mapping software and search engines, encourages new discoveries. The quality of exploration and adventure is something we’ve been losing as technology increasingly getsbetter at giving narrow results and helps us be more efficient in all our tasks. Since when did we become so practical? Why not stop to smell a flower, or follow a cloud?”

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