February 11, 2014

going on a date

My friend, Lauren McCarthy asked if I want to go on a date with her new app Crowd Pilot. This video shows what the app aims to achieve.

and I wrote a story of what happened here check that page for the full story


Date 2/12/2014

E-mail from Michael Connor (curator of Rhizome.org )

Before the date Make sure the app is working on your phone, and you know how to use it. Download it now!

To test it: Choose start a session. Make sure “let the public assist you is checked”, then choose select a situation. Choose “Date.” (For tonight, I recommend using only this option)

Where & when to meet. Bowery Diner. Two of you will meet at 6pm, and two at 730pm. Open the app as soon as you arrive, if you can.

Please meet up at the Bowery Diner bar directly, proper blind date style. I can be reached over email if anything should go wrong. My number is — I’m planning not to be there during your date.

Tell me what you’re wearing, and I can inform your date.

Your friends at home Your streams will automatically appear on crowdpilot.me, and on the rhiz front page between 630 and 830. Date 1: please make sure you have the app running by 630, and try to stay until 730 if you can. Date 2: please arrive as close to 730, or earlier, as you can!

Wifi at Bowery Diner the password, I think, is pancakes - I have to double check this afternoon.

Bar tab We’ve put down $25 under “Rhizome Date 6PM” and “Rhizome Date 730PM” at the bar, which will get you each 2 happy hour drinks.

Before the date

Lauren gives me her phone to take to the date. I turn on the phone and connect to Crowdpilot. I connect my facebook account with the app, and post my first question.

“I’m going out on a blind date. Should I wear a bow tie or a neck tie?”

I wait impatiently for a minute or two and a dozen or so messages pop up on the app.




Put a bowtie on your dick ….

and it continues.

At this point I worry if it will be like this throughtout the whole date. I get worried and consider hiding my identity. I write to Michael and Lauren that I am going out now.

It takes some time to get used to the realization that the sound around you are constantly broadcasted. I take the J train into Manhattan. I keep asking simple questions. “Please help me find a restaurant near L.E.S or Soho”. I get some messages and suggestions but nothing substantial. As it gets closer to 6pm, the announced time for the performance, I get more responses. I arrive in Bowery station twenty minutes before the date. I walk up the street and pass by the New Museum. I look into the glass door, try to see if I can find my date waiting there. I remember I am supposed to meet her in a diner next door. I still have fifteen minutes. I go to the grocery store and find some flowers. I didn’t know if I should get a flower for her, or something else. Kyle said most girls like flowers, so I go with his advise. I ask Crowdpilot.

“I am going on a blind date. Should I get a tulip or lilac for her?”

In less than a minute, I get a dozen advises that lean toward tulip. I ask Crowdpilot again.

“Red or White tulip?”

This time, I get mixed advice on both ends. I get a pink tulip to make everyone happy. As I check out at the counter, I keep talking to the app, because some pilots will respond to my questions. The delay between audio and advise is less than 30 seconds, but it is clear what they were reacting to.

I walk to the diner and ask for a table reserved for Michael, or Rhizome. They don’t know and can’t find it. After a few minutes they find the reservation and guide me to the back of the restaurant. I hang my coat and drink a sip of water. A waiter comes by, smiling and asking if I’m nervous before a big date. I said yes, and he gives me a fist bump. It feels like this guy must know I’m on Crowdpilot and he is an agent sent by the pilots.

I forgot to bring my phone, so I only have Lauren’s phone. Her friends keep texting to her about the project. I see the project getting retweeted by familiar people. Oh boy, it feels like I’m going on stage, all alone in this diner.

Date on Crowdpilot

My date arrives ten minutes late. She’s an attractive girl with cute looks. She’s probably in her late twenties or early thirties. I say Hi and she says Hi. We look at our phone and try to turn on the app. The app doesn’t work. It was working until few minutes ago. We spend the next five minutes struggling to connect to the app. We hardly look at each other. Her app is connected first, and I keep trying to turn mine on.

We introduce ourselves. She tells her name. I worry about telling my real name, so I tell her my name quickly and also my names which I haven’t used for years. I tell her she can call me Tony. but she never calls me by name the whole night, so it was probably not worth the trouble to get a fake name.

We talk about the usual blind date stuff: work, apartment, friends, home, sports, television, sports and drugs. It is uneasy at first to be so talkative and also have attentions diverged between the app and my date. I feel strange when she quickly glimpses at her phone to come up with what to say. However it doesn’t feel any more awkward than when somone looks at their phone during dinner or parties.

We are talking fast about different topics, my app is running well and I get some good feedbacks. By the time we are finishing our first drink, I’m not paying much attention to the app. I like the way she smiles. She has an interesting voice that cracks up when she laughs. She makes the kind of art that I’m familiar with. We talk about code and painting. It feels like this might almost work out.

I talk about personal things, my dreams and travels, habits and goals. She talks about Baltimore, her hometown. It sounds like she is ready to move out of the in house design job and make art full time, but is probably insecure to commit full time. I can relate to that, so I try my best to listen attentively. She has a cute smile.

My friends are giving me advise, and also some friends are giving her advise. (Screenshot from Tega who was Crowdpiloting my date)

After we finish our second drink, I feel pretty comfortable about being with her. But our conversation does feel a bit hyper stimulated. There is not much time between our conversation, there is no space for natural pause. It is easy to confuse stimulation with excitement. She asks more questions from the Crowdpilots. We talk about food and the Internet. Some pilots complain we talk too much about food or the Internet. We don’t know what to talk about, so go back to easier topic like favorite grocery store.

The withdrawal

I take a restroom break. I make sure my bowtie is in right place. I feel pretty good. I think about couple of restaurants to go to. Maybe my favorite Japanese place in East Village, or maybe I ask Crowdpilot. I come back to the table and she goes to the restroom. I turn off Crowdpilot because my battery is low. She comes back. I ask if she wants to eat something. and she says she has to go back home to work on a project. I feel pretty disappointed, but try not to show it. It’s probably true that she has to get on a call with a collaborator tonight and work on some projects. And we did have a good time over nice drinks. But I feel like I probably won’t see her again, unless we run into each other at another art opening or performance. It feels like a curtain call, the show’s over and we go home.

She turns off her app and we ask for a check. There are a few moments of strange silence between our conversation. Finally, a genuine sense of presence between two strangers.

The server says the check has been taken care of by the sponsor. We exchange our contact, twitter handle and other domain names. Our voice changes a bit, probably because we have been talking for an hour. Or possibly because we are not being broadcasted any more. We talk about the meaning of this project. I ask if she thinks people will use this kind of app in near future. We talk about how people already use chats and messages to constantly get feedback from friends and family. I wish her best luck with the project. We walk out to Bowery. It’s pretty cold. I giver her a light hug and we go the other way on Houston.

On the cold subway, I think about what just happened. A participatory performance with the presence of anonymous spectators? A voyueristic and exhibitionist desire packaged into an app? or a light entertainment to make awkward moments more humorous? or simply a dissapointment from a date that probably didn’t really work out?

The withdrawal from Crowdpilot is really disorienting my sense of presence. I know there were at least few hundreds of people listening to our blind date. But I am already feeling displaced from my date who was physically close to me. So fast and so easily, our presence disappears from one another.

I’m pretty hungry and tired. but I choose to go to a book launch by some of my favorite writers. I thought I didn’t have time to go, but since the date ended in an hour, I could still make it. I go to the New School and get a copy of Excommuncatiom by Galloway, Thacker and Wark. I say hi to the authors and catch up with some friends. I tell Alex that I just got here from a blind date where I was crowdsourcing what to say. He laughs and doesn’t believe me. His friend tells me I’m dressed well today and she can’t believe the date didn’t go so well.

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