Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Songs From Strangers Serve as Virtual Hugs at Emotional Bag Check

Having a bad day? Air your personal grievances anonymously on the site Emotional Bag Check.

Having a good day? Share the wealth by visiting the same site to read a stranger’s entry and send him a song of your choice as a virtual pick-me-up.

The most commonly chosen song on Emotional Bag Check — an independent site that streams music through Grooveshark — is “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer, followed by “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World and “Fix You” by Coldplay. (I gifted “Sail Away” by Enya to try to help a submitter who said she just couldn’t escape her problems.)

Robyn Overstreet, the Web developer behind Emotional Bag Check, said the site is the extension of a thesis project she did six years ago for NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program; it was an art installation of “an ATM for secrets.”

Overstreet said she’s not quite sure how the site spread to other people, but it had something to do with a friend posting it to StumbleUpon.

As of last week, Emotional Bag Check had registered 71,000 “checked bags,” and helped send 191,000 song responses. Though the site was built back in February, its traffic has blown up in the past few weeks.

As for who’s using the site, Overstreet said via email: “This is very unscientific, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people who post baggage seem to be teens and young adults. I’ve seen a number of posts about school, parents, and going to college. How they found the site confounds me.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik