Top image photo credit: starbuck77.

Lauren McCarthy isn't the only person who is terrified of dating. However, she seems to be the only person to develop a real-time, crowdsourced feedback system for it. Her Social Turkers dating experiment began when she asked a few simple questions:

  • What if we could receive real-time feedback on our social interactions?
  • Would unbiased third party monitors be better suited to interpret situations and make decisions for the parties involved?
  • How might augmenting our experience help us become more aware in our relationships, shift us out of normal patterns, and open us to unexpected possibilities?

Here's how it goes…McCarthy live-streams her date by iPhone while a group of paid workers from Amazon's Mechanical Turk watch, analyze, and offer McCarthy advice by text on what to say and do. It's Cyrano de Bergerac for the 21st century. Though the genders here are reversed, what would the metaphorical Roxane think of this technological date-whispering? 

Sure, it's an interesting experiment, getting guidance from the hivemind in order to make the best choices in a anxiety-inducing situation. But what about the unsuspecting date's expectation of personal privacy ? Similar to Roxane, he thinks he's on a date with one person when, in reality, he's not.  In fact, it's worse than the Shakespeare play. It's not just one person whispering in Cyrano's ear, it's a crowd.

Perhaps crowdsourced support can optimize someone's social interactions; but if they aren't authentic, what do they do to the actual social connection?


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Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.