In the intermittent times that I’ve used apps such as Foursquare, Facebook, or Twitter for the purposes of sharing location and preferences, I’ve often wondered if and how they could ever facilitate first connections. When job searching, dating, or generally just networking in the living world, there’s nothing more powerful than a connector – someone who can introduce and vouch for two people who don’t know each other. Up to now, the social media platform itself has rarely been that agent, if ever. I look at people who are checked in at the same place as me and have even attempted once or twice to approach them, but it’s almost impossible to come off as anything other than a creep. Social conventions, namely the fear of strangers, mostly prevent actual connection as a result of superficial connection.
As part of the annual DC Fringe Festival, a company called Pepys, Inc, is presenting you with a new social networking creation that improves your life:e-Geaux (beta). Presented as a crowdsourcing technology product demo, the hour-long satire collects data from members of the audience (with their permission) and turns it into an episodic mix of personal tendencies and improv comedy. The show received positive reviews from the Post, NPR, DC Theatre Scene, City Paper, and DCist, among others.
At the final show Sunday afternoon, Pepys (pronounced “peeps”) CEO Joe Price did his best Steve Jobs imitation, clad in jeans and simple one-pocket black t-shirt. Speaking in a flatly enthusiastic tone (“wow guys”), Price was the deadpan center of the production while his two assistants, Cat Deadman and Jason Pittman, handled more of the “acting”. As audience members, we witnessed a parade of profile pictures, pie charts of data such as political affiliation and relationship status, a live dating experiment, and various spin-off products of the e-Geaux brand, including a compatibility evaluator and a friendship autopilot. Other findings:
- The average age was 36, which the cast said afterward was the highest average age of any of their 5 shows.
- There were almost twice as many women as men in the audience.
- An audience member’s number of friends on Facebook ranged from 40 to 4200+.
Yours truly took to Twitter more than any other attendee, eventually being crowned King Klout (much to the chagrin of @kellerjo, I’d like to think) and presented with the all-important Burger King paper crown to wear for the remainder of the show. With great power comes great theoretical imaginary responsibility in cyberspace. Maybe.
I agree with some of the reviews that the show essentially stops dead at the one-hour mark. There’s no summation mechanism to the show, it feels more like the cast runs out of material and it’s time to log off. If there was some way to extend the show to 75 minutes and formulate a crescendo for that final 15, the show would certainly warrant a performance extension (further performances are apparently being considered somewhat at this point). E-Geaux (beta) is definitely onto something, tapping into a technology-savy audience’s need to be fussed over and made part of the show, thereby proving that while technology can be fascinating, the id, ego, and super-ego are timeless and technology-proof.