Shy no more

Summary:Shyno of Milan has developed a safe-ish way to communicate with and ultimately perhaps meet total strangers via cell phone. You wear a special Shyno T-shirt prominently emblazoned with a unique numerical ID. Strangers who see you can text 48200 with your ID and a message for you.

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Shyno of Milan has developed a safe-ish way to communicate with and ultimately perhaps meet total strangers via cell phone. The idea works thus: You wear a special Shyno T-shirt prominently emblazoned with a unique numerical ID. Strangers who see you (street, festival, club) can text 48200 with your ID and a message for you. That message is routed to your phone. The clever part is that--even though he can text you--said stranger doesn't know your actual phone number.

So What?

Giving a stranger your cell number is dangerous because of the possibility of long-term stalking--and since the only way to put a stop to that is to get a new number (a tedious and unpleasant exercise), your perfectly rational tendency will be to avoid revealing your number altogether. But that risks missing out on the possibility of (sigh) true love and (ultimately) the uniquely human satisfaction that comes from the generous tax breaks available to couples with children.

Shyno has shown us a better way. By providing a layer of indirection (as the technical architects like to call it), Shyno has made it possible to establish communication with total strangers--strangers who may well turn out to be psychopaths or computer programmers--in relative safety. If your new chum is a lemon, you can just toss your current T-shirt, buy a new one, and start over--no harm done.

Shyno isn't the first attempt at techno-romance. In Japan a few years ago there was the "Lovegetty" (I don't make these things up), a small wireless device that held a profile of your interests. When you were within a few meters of another Lovegetty user whose profile matched yours, the two devices would vibrate quietly. Presumably you would then have to have a series of short but embarrassing conversations with the people around you ("Do you have a Lovegetty? Is it vibrating?" "You are pathetic. Go away.").

Shyno is also reminiscent of those one-off credit card numbers that are secretly yoked to your real credit card but can be used only once, thereby eliminating the risk of subsequent fraud. And I'm betting that (had I the requisite interest) I could discover a similar service for email.

In any case. The layer of indirection is a powerful and useful technique, and putting it on a T-shirt is a very clever idea--I wish Shyno kilos of luck. My only reservation revolves around the blaring, glaring "I'm Available!" message the T-shirt implicitly sends out. As with the Lovegetty, some people might--just might--find that pathetic.

Topics: Mobility

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