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Yo - Ian Bogost - The Atlantic

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Enter Yo, an app created by Israeli entrepreneur Or Arbel, reportedly in a mere 8 hours time. All it does is send the message “Yo” to an interlocutor. Arbel has raised $1 million in angel investment, a fact that the Internet has responded to with reasonable astonishment. “Not an Onion article,” your friends may already have written in captions on Facebook posts or Twitter links to news of Yo’s yodelers.

It’s stupid. There’s no other word for it. But according to TechCrunch, 50,000 people have sent 4 million Yos since the app was launched on, uhm, April Fool’s Day of this year. But sometimes in stupidity we find a kind of frankness, an honesty. For his part, Arbel has rather overstated the matter. “We like to call it context-based messaging,” he told The New York Times. “You understand by the context what is being said.”

This sort of fancy talk, combined with an influx of investment capital and the attendant expectations of billion-dollar valuations, rankles the everyman. It sounds like nonsense and duplicity: Another tech buffoon trying to dupe the world into enough attention to yield a quick, profitable exit. And it is that, make no mistake. But there’s something undeniably true about the underlying premise of Yo. Not its story as a tech startup—Arbel has moved from his native Israel to San Francisco to work on Yo full-time—but about the way constant, always-on, always-available communication devices and networks have amplified the function of meta-communication. When we talk online, mostly we say variants of one thing: Here I am. Are you here? Yes, yes I’m here. And these statements have just as much meaning when withheld: No, I’m not here, not for you at least, or not right now.

Andreeson, no.

Andreesson no?

Andreessen, in case you didn’t see his latest tweetstorm, thinks Yo could represent a modern take on “one-bit communication” and is reminiscent of the global “missed call” phenomenon. (That is, how people in third-world countries and other developing markets regularly ring someone and hang up as a type of communication.)

Seemingly he misses the point that the signal is not often “yo,” it’s “I’m out of minutes; I don’t have money; here is my message.”

I see, it's hard for him to understand the "I don't have money" message.

Right!  Andreeson has a US-centric view.

First, a missed call is useful only because it does something that you can’t otherwise do. If Yo did not exist, anyone with a smartphone would still able to send a message via WhatsApp or Facebook or countless other apps that read, simply, “yo.” But if all you have is a landline or simple cellphone, there is no zero-cost way to replace a missed call.


Second, even though a “yo” is notionally free, it does extract a hidden cost: access, at the very least, to your smartphone’s contact book. A mobile network knows only your number and the number you’re calling. The hidden price in so many “free” apps—giving the app-maker access to your personal data—is something both the developers and users of these apps often forget about.


Third, the missed call was born out of economic necessity. Hundreds of millions of people in the poor world came up with the idea independently of each other, and they did so because it was a way to save a rupee, a taka, a shilling, or a cedi. The “Yo” app was invented, as far as I can tell, because one guy was too lazy (paywall) to call his secretary.

How to make Yo more useful:

Hilarious.  Imagining Elon Musk receiving a Yo, yo.

You HAVE to see Elon Musk at this Tesla shareholder meeting -- fast forward to minute 36:

OMG  "I'd like to be in charge of Tesla, please."

I know, right?! Hilarity!!

There's also Nutmeg and Wut in this race to build the simplest smartphone app:


Useless messaging apps are certainly having a moment, but now, we are seeing a whole new level of unnecessary. First, we had Yo, which only allows you to send one word. Then Yo got hacked and died (or perhaps that is just my wishful thinking.) Then there is Emojli, which allows you to send only Emojis. Now, we have Yo, Hodor, so Game of Thrones fans, and other people who just like saying 'Hodor', are now able to send just the word Hodor to their contacts. 

For those of you who don't religiously watch Game of Thrones, Hodor is a character who can only say one word: Hodor. So the app is certainly appropriate, silly, and sure to amuse GoT's masses of die hard fans. 

App developer Tyler Hedrick created Hodor in four hours, half the time it took to develop Yo. He told Daily Dot"I wrote an app called Hodor because Hodoring someone is so much cooler than Yoing someone." We would have to agree. 

The app works similar to Yo. You create a username, find friends also using the app through your contacts, and then send them a Hodor. The app also sends an audio clip of Hodor saying, well ... "Hodor." The audio clip is pulled directly from Game of Thrones, so Hedrick may run into some legal issues, as he admitted toTechCrunch: "The sound clip I use for push notifications was taken from the show, so they technically own that, too. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I assume they would give me a cease and desist before trying to sue me."

Yo, Hodor is only available for iOS, but for Android users looking for a quick Hodor, there is Hodor Keyboardan app which replaces every letter with 'Hodor.'

Hodor Hodor Hodor.

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