Standing in another’s digital shoes

While sitting in a coffee shop trying to read this AM, I found myself texting Chris. Chris is the embodiment of eclectic and readily accepts any brain dumps I seem to offer him from time to time with grace, humor, and wit. As we were rapid fire texting messaging today, two ideas I’ve been mulling about came up. I’m sharing them here mainly because I want someone to build both of them and – who knows – maybe plastering this on the internet will cause something to happen 😉

Stand in Someone Else’s Digital Shoes 

This idea is pretty simple: give someone access to another person’s digital life who lives in a vastly different way than them.

It could be a simulator or it could be opt in where you could allow others to “log in” as you with only read access and no write access for a limited time (can you tell I’m making this up?). The easiest way to do this would be to make personas of different people based on data we have and then present it in a fake digital profile.

The goal? To help you experience the digital world of another – what kind of harassment they get, what kind of news is deemed important, what their friends share, what ads they are shown, etc. It would use tailored algorithms normally used to create echo chambers as a way to enlighten and inform.

You could even simulate what it would be like to have a slower or faster internet connection!

You could even have notifications of harassment or praise that you have to interact with and choose to respond to!

I personally think Facebook would be the easiest tool to do this with. By using a medium so many of us are comfortable with, it could be easy to digest and interact with another person’s digital world.

Doing this would provide the closest, easiest, and safest experience of stepping into another’s shoes in today’s digital world. My hope would be that it increases empathy and understanding of the ways in which people experience the world (online at least).

Anonymizing News

I find with quotes, when I know the author, I immediately add or subtract meaning from the words said. For example, if I said the following quote was from Hilter or Mother Teresa, you’d likely have different reactions:

Words build bridges into unexplored regions.

Context does matter after all but truth is everywhere. Applying this concept to news, I think you could create an interesting system. Currently, I have my Apple News app tailored to show as many sides as possible based on the organizations I follow. I also like to keep the algorithm on its toes and like articles that I really don’t like at all so I can see more of it 🙂

It would be neat though if I didn’t know the source of the news at least at first. You’d have to have the content tailored of course but, once a reputable news source has a new article, anonymizing it so you can only see the text + pictures would help you to make judgments just based on the content and not the source.

Bonus points, after reading it, you could answer some quick self reflections about how much you agree with it, what you thought, etc. before the big reveal where you can see the author and source.

I think this might help each of us encounter ideas and thoughts that we might otherwise brush off just based on appearances/affiliations.


Anyways, if someone could make these two things, that’d be cool and I’d use them both all the time 🙂

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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