The Pickup Artist

Have you ever started a conversation with a complete stranger? Do you tell people about your dreams? Do you have trouble sleeping? You might wonder what these three questions have in common. Simple, they are part of an art project called Call in the Night.

The idea was devised by Max Hawkins, an artist and computer scientist based in San Francisco. Calling it a ‘collaborative nighttime art experiment,’ Call in the Night does exactly what its name suggests. After signing up for the service, a stranger will call you and the two of you can discuss whatever you are thinking about at 2am.

Collocation: Hard time: This is a very common collocation. We often use it to describe any difficult time or situation.

“Call in the Night started as a tiny art school project while I was at Carnegie Mellon University,” Mr Hawkins told The Word. “I always had a hard time remembering my dreams. I thought that a nighttime phone call might wake me while still dreaming and allow me to talk about it with a partner.”

The free service allows people to discuss more than dreams. Phone numbers aren’t exchanged so it is totally anonymous. The conversations are also recorded and turned into podcasts. You can hear the time in people’s voices. Their speech is often unclear and difficult to understand.

Word confusion: Stanger vs foreigner: A stranger is someone who you don’t know personally. A foreigner is someone who comes from another country.

“Since Call in the Night launched last year, we’ve placed over 30,000 calls to 3,500 participants,” Mr Hawkins said. “We’ve recorded hundreds of hours of nighttime conversation between complete strangers.”

Calls are not only recorded, but written out and stored in a database. The podcast is still developing but a search window will allow people to find topics in the scripts.

This project is interesting because it creates a close connection between strangers. It is very easy to socialize online with complete strangers, but we rarely have the close contact of a phone call. Remember those? The closeness of two voices but no faces in the darkness must create a special environment.

While Mr Hawkins isn’t profiting from his experiment, he says it is interesting to hear from people who enjoy the service, and he hopes to expand to Europe next year.

“Most people are too sleepy to pick up regularly, but some (insomniacs mostly) pick up almost every time the service calls,” he said. “People seem to enjoy the freedom that comes with talking to a complete stranger. The telephone allows you to be free from your body and your identity. Many participants say talking with someone on Call in the Night is unlike any conversation they’ve ever had.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer- Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

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Do you talk to people who you don’t know? Do you tell people about your dreams? Do you have trouble sleeping? You might wonder what these three questions have in common. Simple, they are part of an art project called Call in the Night.

Word confusion: Stanger vs foreigner: A stranger is someone who you don’t know personally. A foreigner is someone who comes from another country.

Max Hawkins, an artist and computer scientist based in San Francisco, created the concept. Calling it a ‘collaborative nighttime art experiment,’ Call in the Night does exactly what its name suggests. After signing up for the service, a stranger will call you and the two of you can discuss whatever you are thinking about at 2am.

Collocation: Hard time: This is a very common collocation. We often use it to describe any difficult time or situation.

“Call in the Night started as a tiny art school project while I was at Carnegie Mellon University,” Mr Hawkins told The Word. “I always had a hard time remembering my dreams. I thought that a nighttime phone call might wake me while still dreaming and allow me to talk about it with a partner.”

The free service lets people talk about more than dreams. Phone numbers aren’t exchanged so it is totally anonymous. The conversations are also recorded. You can later hear them as podcasts.

“Since Call in the Night launched last year, we’ve placed over 30,000 calls to 3,500 participants,” Mr Hawkins said. “We’ve recorded hundreds of hours of nighttime conversation between complete strangers.”

Calls are also written out and stored in a database. The podcast is still developing but a search window will allow people to find topics in the scripts.

This project is interesting because it creates a close connection between strangers. It is very easy to socialize online with strangers, but we rarely have the close contact of a phone call.

The service is not a business. Mr Hawkins hopes to start operating in Europe soon.

“Most people are too sleepy to pick up regularly, but some (insomniacs mostly) pick up almost every time the service calls,” he said. “People seem to enjoy the freedom that comes with talking to a complete stranger. The telephone allows you to be free from your body and your identity. Many participants say talking with someone on Call in the Night is unlike any conversation they’ve ever had.”

Original article by Jacy Meyer- Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

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Phrasal verb: Strike up: Often used in connection with conversation, strike up means to start usually with little effort.

Ever strike up a conversation with a complete stranger? Depending on the cultural norms in your home country this may happen regularly or be a rare and abnormal experience. Here’s a completely different question. How do you sleep? For most people the typical is answer is ‘fine’ but for insomniacs the idea of sleep brings on a host of other emotions. A semi-related topic are dreams. Some people remember all their dreams, some people none, but scientists say everyone dreams whether they remember them or not. Out of all of the above random ideas, it was his dreams that led Max Hawkins, an artist and computer scientist based in San Francisco to create Call in the Night.

Calling it a ‘collaborative nighttime art experiment,’ Call in the Night does exactly what its name suggests. After signing up for the service, sometime in the middle of the night a stranger will call you and the two of you can discuss whatever it is that is on your minds at 2am.

Collocation: Hard time: This is a very common collocation. We often use it to describe any difficult time or situation.

“Call in the Night started as a tiny art school project while I was at Carnegie Mellon University,” Mr Hawkins told The Word. “I always had a hard time remembering my dreams. I thought that a nighttime phone call might wake me while still dreaming and allow me to talk about it with a partner. Once the service launched, I realized that the format was great for talking about more than just dreams.”

The service is free (Mr Hawkins asks for donations on the website to keep it running) and phone numbers aren’t exchanged so it is totally anonymous. The conversations are also recorded and turned into podcasts. Listening to one of them, you can quickly tell which person was asleep when the call came; slurred, rambling speech and a kind of ‘where am I’ tone to the voice.

“Since Call in the Night launched last year, we’ve placed over 30,000 calls to 3,500 participants,” Mr Hawkins said. “We’ve recorded hundreds of hours of nighttime conversation between complete strangers.”

He added that the calls are not only recorded, but transcribed, and archived in a database. The podcast is still a work in progress but will use search terms as windows into the archived database. Clips of interesting calls from many participants that contain the word searched for will be woven together.

Collocation: Intimate connection: A close connection. These two words are often used together too.

What I found most interesting about this project was the intimate connection it makes between two complete strangers. Thanks to our hyper-socialized world, anyone can be ‘friends’ with anyone, anywhere in the world. You can comment on blogs, someone’s Facebook page, view their photo albums and more without truly having a conversation or even much of an association. Even email and instant messaging provide some distance. But this is a phone call. Remember those? The intimacy of two voices but no faces in the darkness must provide an environment unlike any other, especially in today’s world when anyone and anything is a quick google search away.

While Mr Hawkins isn’t profiting from his experiment, he says it is interesting to hear from people who enjoy the service, and he hopes to expand to Europe next year.

“Most people are too sleepy to pick up regularly, but some (insomniacs mostly) pick up almost every time the service calls,” he said. “People seem to enjoy the freedom that comes with talking to a complete stranger. The telephone allows you to be free from your body and your identity. Many participants say talking with someone on Call in the Night is unlike any conversation they’ve ever had.”

Jacy Meyer- Phoenix, Arizona

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