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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wiffiti: Texting in Public

Wiffiti, or wireless graffiti, lets you send a text message to a public display so everyone can see your shoutout or random personal comment. Although these displays are currently limited to 8 locations including cafes and sub shops in Cambridge, Seattle, and Chicago, it's a neat idea that even has marriage proposals being displayed (it took 29 minutes for her to text an acceptance). Each location is associated with a two or three character code that tells Wiffiti which location to post your text to. The cost is the same as a regular text message.

The novelty value is there, but already it looks like spammers have taken to using the service (look at text number 71 above). I can imagine real graffiti filling up the entire display since there doesn't appear to be any moderation. The openness of Wiffiti invites abuse since you don't actually have to be in the cafe or shop to text. If there were some sort of location tracking or special code that you could only get at the physical location, then that would alleviate the spam problem.

Still, Wiffiti can help create the feel of a communal atmosphere where cafe and bar patrons can communicate indirectly. That might be enough to entice more locations to want to sign up although it doesn't look like they're looking to expand. If it gets big enough, Wiffiti might become the new PostSecret.

(via The Economist)


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