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Michael Dory


Helping stressed users, one cheer-up call at a time.

Computers for the Rest of You

Using a computer is seldom a happy, heart-warming experience -- usually it's somewhere between a marriage of convinence and an all-out throwdown fight. This of course wears heavily on computer users, who are increasingly becoming stressed, isolated and generally unhappy.

What I'm hoping to do with this project is re-inject human contact into the stressed user's day, triggering a phone call when too many unhappy words are typed. This phone call will feature one of several pre-recorded cheer-up messages, encouraging the user that everything is okay in the world. Additionally, by pulling the user away from the stressful situation (the computer), he or she will ideally take a moment to collect his or herself and return to work more focused and generally happier.

This project stemmed from my obsession with humanizing factors in technology, calm tech in ubiquitous computing, and frustration with typing. I ran a text logger for several weeks with the intent of making a program that would randomize my sentences, but when I saw how often I typed sad/angry/depressed/stressed words, I saw a new focus emerge. I'm hoping to be able to provide a little shot of happy for people who could really use it -- myself likely included.

The millions of stressed-out computer users across the world -- or really, if implemented properly, anybody who could use a good cheer-up moment in their day.

User Scenario
The user's computer runs a text logger to record what’s typed and a Processing applet to watch for an abundance of sad, depressed and/or angry words. When too many of those words appear, Processing triggers Asterisk to call you and cheer you up.