leslie hitchcock

WUT?? No, Seriously, WUT.

In reviews on June 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

Wut.Filed under mobile apps I completely missed during an insanely busy time in my life is WUT. Seriously, that’s its name. Honestly, I can understand how it flew under my radar because the purpose of an app like WUT genuinely perplexes me.

Learning of WUT this weekend, I sent my first one and I’m not sure what happens next. Before I dig into why that is a problem, let’s run through the premise, according to the founders.

Much like Secret and Whisper, WUT [I giggle each time I say its name] aims to live within the genre of anonymish apps, where thoughts can be shared to members of your network without identifying the original poster. The difference between WUT [still giggling] and those other apps is that much like Snapchat, the messages disappear off a user’s home screen and cannot be resurfaced upon opening the app. In WUT’s case, my network is my Facebook friends. Upon sending a WUT it can be WUTWUT-ed, meaning reshared by a member of my network. An alert is pushed when that happens, as well. If a friend in my network is spammy with their WUTs, I can mute them. Beyond that there are no more features.

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All I can say to this is, “Why?” Someone seems to think this is relevant, but it doesn’t compute for me. Perhaps I’m not the target market. After all, I don’t use Snapchat. I downloaded the app, but never opened it; it has since been deleted. WUT’s ephemerality doesn’t really appeal to me. I enjoy knowing what my friends are thinking and up to – Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare make me feel connected to people whom I care about. Yes, Secret (which I certainly enjoy) is also an anonymized app, but because I can engage with my network, it feels more connected.

WUT is a visually appealing app, and I love aesthetics. I enjoy the soothing pastel background and clever integration of emoji into the interface (ask anyone who regularly texts with me how much I adore emoji – especially camels, since there are no lions). As has been stated by TechCrunch, its ease of use is WUTs most noted aspect, but all you’re doing is sending a message into the ether which “dozens” of your friends will see until it vanishes. Not too much needs to be involved when that is the gist.

My friend who introduced me to WUT had not received a single WUT since installing the app, which leads me to believe our network of “dozens” of WUT users is not so bullish on the experience. However, last night a flurry of WUT activity occurred and I even participated in my first WUTWUT.

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Hopefully the “dozens” of friends I have on WUT will continue to participate in the chatter WUT founders envisioned. I hope so; already feel like an old lady who doesn’t “get” Snapchat and the like, so understanding this would salvage my reputation. Otherwise, perhaps WUT will go the way of WUFPH, which I also find endlessly hysterical:

Women Vs. Women, Or The Ugly Side Of Feminism

In thoughts on May 29, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

With the birth of the new feminist narrative sweeping popular culture, it is bound to enter its awkward teenage phase. And just like a teenage mean girl, the new feminism is growing unwieldy before gracefully settling into something we can agree on. But before it makes it there, I hope it doesn’t tear us all down in the process.

A few weeks ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in New York, I observed hundreds of men descend upon the Manhattan Center determined to build an app that would catch the eye of various parties awarding prizes. Among them were a handful of women who were certainly holding their own in the testosterone-heavy environment.

One of those women headed a team that built an app to help women organize trips to the nail salon. It was called Indulge and as co-founder Velina Ivanova was pitching on stage, I couldn’t help but get…

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Shhhhhh, I’ve Got a Secret. Wanna Hear It?

In reviews, thoughts on February 8, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Secret App

Personally, after a rough couple of months, I’ve felt less compelled to spew my thoughts, location, pictures and whatnot out there into the ether. I deleted Facebook and Foursquare off of my phone, only use Twitter during the work week, and post to Instagram significantly less than I did much of last year. Following a sense that I wanted to circle the proverbial wagons a bit I backed off.

Perhaps this is the type of sentiment which makes Secret such a compelling new toy to play with. Is anonymity the new black?

Over the last couple of days I’ve engaged with Secret out of curiosity, and have some philosophical thoughts about the app itself as well as those of us who are posting on it. Please bear with me.

You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets

A teacher has told me that I’m only as sick as my secrets, so I really shouldn’t have any. The idea behind it is that secrets can build resentment, which is pretty much like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies. In order to stay healthy, secrets need to come out. Some do this in therapy, some through 12-step programs, some rely on exceptional friends and loved ones to bounce things off of. Secret fills an interesting void in this respect, one that hasn’t existed online successfully.

Sure, anonymity exists, but it is traditionally one-sided. Formspring comes to mind, where the person answering questions was not shielded but the questioners were. One can have private accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but in theory everyone interacting with you is tied to an actual person. Secret keeps everyone anonymous and therefore (in theory) gives valuable space for thoughts to tumble out that one might not feel safe sharing otherwise, and room for support from friends who are also on the service.

Secret

Anonymity is a Trippy Thing

That being said, trolls exist everywhere, including in people’s friend circles. I’ve observed people in my network post things about infidelity that could easily be tracked back, commenters become venomous on threads, and people overall not behaving very friendly to each other. It is just as disheartening as it sounds.

Counter to that, most of what I’ve seen on the service is people crying for help with anxiety or depression, moving through heart break, professing love for their partner, or lamenting unrequited love. These are all incredibly challenging things to discuss with anyone, but my hope is that Secret shows these friends or friends of friends how much support they can get, which would encourage them to get the help they deserve or to walk through challenging situations.

What is fascinating to me is how one is perceived on the service. I posted something about trying to move through a broken heart (refer to first paragraph) and got some support, but people assumed I was a guy. I think this says more about society than it does me, but I’ll keep my political opinions to a minimum in this post.

Secret

Too Good To Be True?

I often use the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and this applies to Secret in a major way. The service will get hacked, simply because of the nature of the product itself. It is juicy. Curiosity about who is posting what will not be enough for some, so it is just a matter of time. To be safe, I’m not posting anything too racy.

The app is beautiful, well executed and an interesting concept. I’m curious about how it will evolve and if it will maintain the “masquerade ball” feel that the founders envision. My phone book is filled with decidedly late adopters, but the number of connections I have on the service grows daily. This bodes well for Secret, hopefully they’ll continue to promote the good so the circle of confidants can grow.

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