Magazine article Filmmaker

Somebody Wake Me Up Please

Magazine article Filmmaker

Somebody Wake Me Up Please

Article excerpt

My phone is ringing. The sound pulls me from a deep sleep. It's 5:30 a.m., the room is dark, and for a moment I'm confused. As I push the phone into my ear I hear a female voice singing. Slowly it registers; this is the wakeup call that I requested. But I'm not staying in a hotel, and the woman calling me is a complete stranger. The singing stops and the voice on the other end of the line tells me to have a wonderful day. I express my gratitude and ask her name. "Sarah from Dublin," she replies, and as quickly as the call began, it's over.

Wakie is a social alarm clock that enables users to request a wakeup call from a total stranger. Or, if you feel generous, you yourself can randomly wake someone thanks to an anonymous automated dialing system. And whether it's because of or despite the app's strange novelty, Wakie has built a global community in a short period of time. Users exchange beauty tips, complain about relationships, talk about hookups and often boast about being drunk while they wait for the opportunity to wake someone up.

Today there is an app for just about anything. Many attempt to simplify and automate elements of our lives using to-do lists, maps, reviews and discovery mechanisms. Some apps create warm feelings of connection for users through liking, commenting, following and retweeting mechanisms. Meanwhile, texting has become an intimate volley of people firing messages back and forth in an effort to avoid talking. For many, these exchanges have become normal daily interactions. In fact, they have become so familiar that it's the old-fashioned ring of a telephone that feels out of place.

Earlier this fall, filmmaker and performance artist Miranda July released a new mobile app that transforms something inherently digital - the text message - into something awkwardly human by adding elements of performance and vulnerability. "Somebody, a messaging service by Miranda July" enables users to write a personal note to a friend and have it delivered, in person, by a nearby stranger. Through onscreen prompts, users can even direct the performance of the stranger delivering it. Details such as time of day, required props and if the message should be whispered, screamed or delivered in a song can all be specified.

A number of entertaining Somebody exchanges have so far been documented, with the original writers receiving "delivery confirmation" in the form of photos capturing recipient and stranger together in the message's aftermath. …

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