Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Jotly Spoof Turns Real; “Rate Everything” App Now Available for iPhone

Sometimes the most ridiculous thing you can think of turns out to be not that ridiculous after all.

This fall, members of the team at Firespotter Labs made a parody video pitch for a mobile app called Jotly that promised it would help people rate absolutely everything.

Then Firespotter saw at least two very similar apps — Oink and Stamped — launch for real.

(Those aren’t the only ones; this idea of giving users tools for quick and fun self-expression in order to build a more meaningful understanding of the world is also present in other apps like Amen, DailyModi and Tiny Review. All of these were recently introduced and none of them is terribly popular yet.)

So why not take the joke one step further? Today Jotly for the iPhone was released. Firespotter’s Alex Cornell explained:

“It was crazy to see these uber-granular ‘rate things’ type apps released in such a serious way, when we had imagined the same feature sets to be the stuff of social app satire. So then we figured, why not just crush it out quickly if we could.”

Cornell promised that this was just a side project by a Firespotter engineer, and that Jotly is really still a joke. The app itself seems fine enough, if a little basic and sparse.

Firespotter continues to make the Nosh app, which aggregates ratings for food dishes. Big distinction!

Meanwhile, Jotly isn’t the only tech parody with legs.

Last week I was talking with Linden Tibbets, whose neat company Ifttt helps link Web services together so users can archive and cross-post content, and set up custom notifications.

I asked Tibbets about whether he or anyone else was working on some kind of universal notifier service, one that would try to find me everywhere and then would be smart enough to retract all of the notification alerts once I’d seen one.

That kind of already exists, Tibbets pointed out. Well, at least in theory. Last year the NBC show “The Office” had a funny bit about a start-up named WUPHF that sent out simultaneous emails, faxes, text messages, voicemails, tweets, chats and pages.

The pitch is pretty much perfect (see below). So who’s going to build this?

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald