“20 Day Stranger” is an iPhone app (from The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT and MIT Media Lab Playful Systems) that creates a mobile experience where one person’s experience of the world is exchanged with another’s. You’ll be matched with a stranger and with complete anonymity will experience each other’s lives for 20 days.
The app tracks your physical place in your world and pulls photos from Foursquare or Google Maps to share with your paired stranger, who may live anywhere else in the world. Wherever you go, the app will find a picture that was taken there and send it to your partner (and vice-versa) so you will start to build an understanding of what their life is like.
Kevin Slavin, the director of Playful Systems, told Fast Company: “We’re trying to provide just enough to the recipient of your life to allow someone to imagine it without providing actual information–it’s something in between information and imagination.”
The app is designed to create empathy, to encourage people to connect with people from outside of their social circles, as many virtual communication platforms encourage connection with people we already know. It uses anonymity as a tool to empower positive connections, rather than the negative ones often engendered (take note, all of you internet trolls).
We think it’s a great tool for experiencing the world in a completely new way. It will exercise all the right muscles in your brain that are needed for insight (ok… there aren’t any muscles in your brain, but you know what we mean), and who knows what fantastic thoughts and understandings this new perspective might bring?
Check out the video above, and sign up here.