Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?
27. I'm currently a graduate student at NYU's Interactive Telecommunciations Program (ITP). I'm originally from right outside Boston, and moved down to NYC in 1998. I did my required summer on the UES, spent a year in midtown, 2 years in the West Village, a summer in Montauk, a winter in NH and now I'm in the Lower East Side.
1. You've created "Friendster for the mobile phone" in the form of a new service called Dodgeball.Social. How does this work and is it just some scheme to facilitate spontaneous hooking-up?
The idea is pretty simple: use your cell phone to tell us where you are and we'll broadcast your location to all your friends. If any friends-of-friends are within 10 blocks of you, we'll ping you both with a message (and a photo of if you've got a camera phone) encouraging you to meet up.
Friendster was a lot of fun, but does it actually do anything? We're trying to build things that can change the course of an evening - bringing your friends together or introducing two people that are sitting 10 feet away.
We think of it technology facilitating serendipity. As to whether anyone is going to get laid from it, all I can say is that our engineers are working day and night to make this happen.
2. Do you think the lifestyle patterns of New Yorkers inspire a suite of technology applications that might not work anywhere else?
I think it's as much about "lifestyle patterns" as it is about the geographic layout of the city. Whenever I meet friends for drinks, I'll use Dodgeball to broadcast my location to my friends - more often than not I'll end up meeting up with someone who was two blocks away. It works because the city is smaller than we all think and the paths we walk are relatively fluid.
We always say, "if it's going to work anywhere it'll work in NYC". As to whether it'll work everywhere, we'll find out soon enough: Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philly are launching in the next 10 days.
As for technology in general... Phones are getting smarter. iPods will learn how to talk. When the gadgets we carry learn to passively communicate with the gadgets other people carry, a lot of cool things are going to happen. And these things are going to work on the streets and subways of NYC better than they will anywhere else.
3. Graduate programs like NYU's ITP and MIT's Media Lab are enabling students like yourself to work on projects that might not have a "sustainable business model" but at least plant the seeds for thought from which bigger ideas grow. So when you guys aren't making WiFi robots with Bluetooth and GSM to play Atari 2600 games how does the school environment foster an idea like Dodgeball?
My ITP experience will be over in 3 weeks and looking back, coming here is one of the best decisions I've made. This place is filled with artists, engineers and musicians. There are people building robots, writing software, creating musical instruments, filming documentaries. Take the whole "put smart people in a room and they'll figure it out" adage and multiply it by 200 people over 2 years. That's ITP. There's no way to walk out of here every day without feeling smarter.
If you've never heard of ITP, you really need to check it out. Swing by the spring show - highlighting this semester's student work - on May 11 & 12. (see http://itp.nyu.edu)
Please share a personal (and hopefully interesting) NYC taxi story.
Random Wednesday night. Some friends and I are sitting in one of the window-facing booths at the Magician (the one on the right as you walk in - arguably my favorite seat in all of NYC). Anyway, it all happened really fast, but at one point some kid busts out of Welcome to the Johnson's and hurls a pint glass through the back window of a cab. The cab driver immediately gets out, stares down the guy, then gets back in his cab and slams it in reverse. He's flying down Rivington (in
reverse!), hits the brakes at the corner causing the cab to spin out Dukes of Hazard style. The cabbie gets out and starts chasing after the kid down Rivington. Not sure what happened after that.
9pm, Wednesday night - what are you doing?
Watching The OC, of course.
What's your New York motto?
"I'll cut you."
Best celebrity sighting in New York, or personal experience with one if you're that type.
Either the time my bestest friend Jill and I kept walking past Ad Rock, back and forth three times, until he gave us the "Yeah, I know you know who I am, now please stop stalking me" nod or the time that Janice Soprano showed up at one of our rooftop parties in the West Village.
Describe that low, low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
After the end of my dot-com career in 2001 (read: laid off), I moved up to NH and worked for the winter as a snowboard instructor. When the snow melted, I moved out of my 3 bedroom palace in NH, drove back to NYC and moved into an apartment in the West Village with two random girls. I had a 9 x 9 pantry-turned-bedroom. It had a window that faced a brick wall, a menacing metal grate covering it and a nest of constantly cooing pigeons outside. I was miserable. A week later, a load of bricks fell from the rooftop of a nearby building onto the scaffolding below, both of which toppled over and fell onto the roof of my car, crushing it. I almost packed my bags that afternoon.
Just after midnight on a Saturday - what are you doing?
Trying to convince present company that we need to find a Big Buck Hunter machine.
What's the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
If by "expensive", you mean "priceless" then I offer you my Dot-com Party Pants(tm) which have represented at every industry party, every speaking engagement, every Easter and ITP presentation since '98.
Where do you summer?
Never anywhere fabulous. I did the Montauk thing one summer and almost drowned trying to teach myself to surf. I did the Catskills thing last summer and nearly shot my eye out with a pellet gun. I think this summer I'll stick to the skate park down at Hudson River Park.
What was your best dining experience in NYC?
Does Brooklyn count? This past Superbowl, I found myself knee-deep in $97.94 worth of Domino's Chicken Kickers, martini glasses full of blue cheese, little cookies shaped like football players and, of course, my signature Notorious PIBs (PIB = Pigs in Blankets). It was one
of the most delicious days of my life.
Just how much do you really love New York?
Enough to say with confidence that I'll never move back to Boston. (Though not enough to ever root for the Yankees).
What happened the last time you went to L.A.?
So get this - I fly out to LA to spend the weekend with my friend Ryan (an old friend from Chino). I figure we'll lounge around in LA, a nice relaxing weekend, but when he picks me up at the airport he's all up in a frenzy cause his girl Marissa is all stressed out. Apparently she's trapped in the penthouse suite with this guy Oliver who's been all up in her business for weeks...
The only time I've been to LA was when I was 14. I went to Knott's Berry Farm with my Mom to ride Snoopy rollercoasters.
If you could change one thing about New York, what would it be?
This city needs more places serving fish tacos.
The End of The World is finally happening. Be it the Rapture, War of Armageddon, reversal of the Sun's magnetic field, or the Red Sox win the World Series. What are you going to do with your last 24 hours in NYC?
First of all, I can't believe the Sox won the World Series. And for Ellis Burks (my childhood hero) to hit the Game 7 winning, 11th inning, 548 ft. home run. Man, that was something else. Now what? Banana pancakes at Piny Pony. Beat the high score on the Ms. Pac Man machine at Welcome to the Johnson's. Google my ex-girlfriend (again). Whip through Times Square traffic on my bike. Get everyone together at Local 138. Cross my fingers that I run into Sweet Sweet Softball Girl one last time.
Check out Dodgeball.Social here.