“We think of it as 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.”
Four years ago, my cell phone partied every night, thanks to Dennis Crowley. Dens worked with me at Vindigo, and was truly excited about the possibilities when people could communicate on the go. He is rare: a gadget freak with a genius for people.
“I just want to call up his mother and tell her what a good job she did,” said a senior colleague not given to overpraise.
He made Dodgeball for his friends. If Orkut is what you build when you’d like to collect people like stamps, early Dodgeball was for the real, beer-on-the-floor world. Clouds of people floated around Dennis, and for fun he built them tools to get more Best Days Ever(tm) out of life.
The idea was simple. Make a list of your friends’ phone numbers, or join someone else’s list. “Check in” when you get to a bar or a club. If they’ve agreed to it, they get a quick text message saying you’re there. The service supplies the address. Dodgeball kids didn’t talk pompous talk about Virtual Social Networks four years ago; they just used it to make real ones. In New York City we pay fat rents to live near good stories, but people shoot around the place like pinballs. Dodgeball made sure friends–and now friends of friends–collided once in a while. It’s not a lot to ask, and the geeks and phone company apparatchiks will pick it up eventually.
Seems Dens has been working hard since I last checked in to his Dodgeball Circle. He went back to college, and turned a hobby into an NYU Interactive Technology Program project. Now Clay Shirky, his NYU professor (and my favorite technology essayist), says Dodgeball is ready for the big time. Duck.