Thursday, February 5, 2015
Finished Jamie Woo's Meet Grindr...
While queueing for Pump class registration, I managed to finish the last few chapters of Jamie Woo’s Meet Grindr: How One App Changed the Way We Connect. Yeah, that’s right. Someone actually took the time to dissect the processes, the interactions, the “academic” side of this app that indeed changed the way gay men “connect.”
For any person familiar with the app, the process could be as simple as launch the app, tap on the tile of a guy, negotiate, hook up or whatever.
But through the book, Woo actually sought to “explore the unseen layers of complexity within Grindr’s design…” More interesting is his effort to analyse “the effect it had on user behavior, with even seemingly trivial decisions reverberating into unexpected results.”
The book was published in 2013. Between its publication time and now, I’m quite sure that the app itself has undergone quite a number of changes. To be honest, I wouldn’t know because I don’t really use the app. After PG Boy and I parted ways, I did install it but uninstalled it after. Last month, I installed it again only to uninstall it after a few days. Lol!
That story aside, Woo’s book was of interest to me because it compiled in one book the observations people have of the app (people who bother to think about the app and its impact to culture and society, anyway).
Some of the things he wrote are already quite familiar. Still, reading it on print was I guess a way of confirming that my thoughts are shared by other people. Haha!
Okay, here are the things I remember from the book. Grindr was not designed to be a hookup app. It was really to find friends. (Yeah, right?!) The way the app was designed was for users to stay on the app for only a short period of time. Again, get on the app, find someone, get off the app and “get off.” Haha! This, I guess, is somewhat of unwelcome news to those who claim that they are on the app to find friends.
What else? Grindr’s design is somewhat similar to a vending machine. You go online, go through the 100 tiles of photos, choose what you want and if an agreement is reached, then good for you. With this design though, guys are actually reduced to products rather than the substantial beings that they are.
Grindr’s design affects the decision making processes of an individual. One analysis given was that presented with just three or four choices, one would be able to remember his criteria for selecting a particular guy. In the Grindr environment, one is presented with 100 guys and this makes the decision making process more challenging. It becomes a challenge to a point whereby a person’s original criteria is muddled because of the pool of candidates presented to him.
Other interesting things Woo writes about are a look into what profile photos mean, different types of users, how the app impacts the society’s view of male beauty, and so on.
It concludes with suggestions on what other modifications can be done for the future Grindr. He also talks about the possible impact that evolving software and new hardware would have on apps similar to Grindr. Interesting book.