SHADOW – it’s dark, formless, and a lot less interesting when you shine some light on it.
I had to read through the pitch a couple of times, but I think I finally have it figured out. SHADOW is a smartphone app with two parts: (1) tools to help you collect data about your dreams, and (2) tools to quantify and visualize that data.
The hardest part of recording your dreams is starting the habit of recording your dreams. By seamlessly integrating the dream recording tools with an alarm clock, you will have to explicitly opt-out of the commitment you made to yourself that tonight was the night you’d get started.
While the musical pseudoscientific tone makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, I’m actually on-board so far. I rarely remember my dreams, and it could actually see myself giving this a try (though I probably won’t).
Of course, like anything worth its salt these days, it’s “social”. I’m sure you’re as excited as I am to see Cousin Greg’s dream about playing Candy Crush pop up in your Facebook feed…
Natural language processing is exceptionally hard, so either the author is a guru on the subject but has decided this audience wouldn’t be interested in or understand the details, or we’re going to get one of those “word cloud” things.
Snark aside, I’m all for finding new and meaningful patterns in my life, and if it were possible to correlate the content of my dreams with real events (e.g. a major presentation on the user’s calendar for the next day might have something to do with that anxiety dream the night before), somebody deserves a Ph.D. I doubt such an analysis would be practical though – I suspect there’s far too much noise in the data to overcome any statistical correction for multiple comparisons.
I’ll come clean: I’m reviewing this campaign not because of the tech, but because it’s raised almost $50k and is one of Kickstarter’s “Staff Picks” using two sales techniques that I absolutely HATE.
First, the product itself is buried in overwrought verbiage about the power of dreams, and it’s not until five screens down that anything concrete about the damn thing is even mentioned (and all it says is that “SHADOW is an innovative alarm clock”). And don’t get me started on the content of the pitch – “Sleep is where some of humanity’s most incredible creations got their start.” Ideas are cheap; execution takes skill, effort, and dedication. Way to trivialize the great accomplishments of great people.
Second, this is a voice recorder bundled with an alarm clock. That’s it. The description “Like astronauts gazing back on Earth for the first time, we think of SHADOW as a mechanism for seeing the world from a different perspective” seems a bit overblown, don’t you think? Louis CK is right – we’re wasting the dynamic range of our language.
(All images are screenshots taken from the SHADOW Kickstarter campaign on 20 September 2013.)