I Asked for the Human Internet and Got It…

[originally posted here on denuology.com]

This is a post I find hilarious in retrospect given my eventual hatred of Quora, which ended up being one of the 10 most popular posts on the BBH Labs blog.


Dear Anonymous Interweb Reader,

At Denuo, we get the “trends in digital” presentation request a lot. And one trend I’m excited about that’s clearly bubbling up is the humanizing of the internet. Sure, web 2.0 is already bringing more people together, blah, blah, but the reality is we’re going to see humans formally add a layer onto most web tools over the next 3 years in ways that are miles ahead of “community” and “UGC” (barf).

One of the services I cite as an example in that conversation is inevitably ChaCha. For those that don’t know ChaCha lets you text in a question and a human guide texts back an answer based on some quick Googling. I became obsessed with ChaCha about 6 months ago and used it to settle most bar bets (yes key lime pie was invented in the florida keys — a fact Durbin paid Benny $20 over).

However, my real pleasure came from asking it completely human questions. Things Google can’t answer because they were subjective in nature (”am I smart?”, “what after shave should I use,” etc).


Then, reality reared its ugly head on election night. Below is my SMS exchange:

Me: “Is Barack Obama the human Optimus Prime?” (sent from the inspiring surroundings of the Grant Park rally)

ChaCha: “Personally, I do not believe that at all. In fact, part of me believes that he is the anti-christ. Thanks for using ChaCha!”

Now, I asked for it. I know that.

I have no issue with a human clarifying that they, personally, are not on board with a statement, but it’s the injection of such an aggressive and subjective counterpoint that rubbed me the wrong way (yes, the principle, not the politics). I swore off ChaCha that day, but part of me can’t help but wonder why I’m so mad that the humanized web respond as exactly that… a human.

Am I wrong to never use the service again on principle? Or am I actually violating my own principles by turning my back on this otherwise useful service?


Text-Shy in Chi


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