We think it does. We have Facebook to maintain ongoing, low-intensity interactions with people we know but hardly ever wish to spend time with; we have Twitter to follow celebrities or topics we care about, regardless of where we are; we have LinkedIn to put a face to a name, Yik Yak for faceless games, WhatsApp for texting, Snapchat for sexting, and Tinder to try to get laid.
Different as they are, these services have one thing in common — they distract us from the simple present. On them, we are either someone else, somewhere else, or focused on something that already happened or is yet to occur. Somehow, the most obvious aspects of human communication have been neglected by the technology world: What about being your own self, right here, right now?
That’s why we built Space, a natural way to communicate with humans. Space allows you to see what people nearby are talking about, share signals with friends or strangers in your area, and walk away once the conversation is over — all messages disappear, and you don’t keep in touch with anyone unless you specifically choose to. Just like in real life.
Your own self.
Space is for humans, not for users (and definitely not for abusers). Humans have a face and a name; they are not anonymous. Humans share a common curiosity about what is immediately around them. Humans are multi-faceted: They can be funny, intelligent, familiar, or intriguing; they are not to be judged (or swiped away) based on a single photo or hashtag. Humans are happiest in the present, sharing a funny thought with those around them or tapping a stranger on the shoulder to ask for advice or offer a spare slice of pizza. On Space, you are not your résumé, friends list, or that bikini photo from two years ago; you are who you are.
Over the past 20 years, algorithms have been busy figuring out creative ways to distract us from where we are. Space’s feed is focused on where you are. We use technology to empower your presence, not to undermine it. We take your friendships and preferences into account, but only when something relevant happens to be immediately near you. Simply put, our goal is to distract you back to reality.
We live in a world of never-ending conversations. On Space, interactions are full of life, or they cease to exist. Once people stop talking, the conversation disappears, and everyone goes their separate ways. Want to stay in touch? Send them your number, add them on Facebook, ask for their email address, or just wait until you bump into them again in another conversation. Just like in real life.
“We are on a journey to keep an appointment with whatever we are.”
— Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek
The above piece is a the manifesto of my now-defunct startup, Space. In September 2015, it was featured by Apple as one of the "Best New Apps" for that month. For severla weeks, it was on the front page of the app store, resulting in tens of thousands of doanloads. It was later renamed Otherz.com, to make it easier for people to find it (searching for "Space" would bring up too many other things). The up died peacefully due to lack of a clear use case. Here is a video of one of its later versions: