Just for Laughs—and New Ideas

Just for Laughs—and New Ideas

Evening host Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Cultivated Wit, said his company's hackathon is a way to better humanize technology.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

It's Not Creepy; It's Augmented Advertising

It's Not Creepy; It's Augmented Advertising

Developer Jon Gottfried said CPCCupid makes missed connections a thing of the past by constantly pushing photos and references about you into your potential soulmate's Web browser. Not creepy or invasive at all . . .

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Living in the Now

Living in the Now

Comedian Jillian Richardson said The Moment app can help break your addiction to technology by forcing you to tap a button over and over to prove that you are living "in the moment," and then flooding your social feeds with inane posts every time you click. Finally, an app to stop people from constantly taking selfies, using Snapchat, playing Pokemon Go, or swiping on Tinder.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Every Geologists' Dream App

Every Geologists' Dream App

Very mellow comedian Alec Cohen said How Many Rocks is a massive multiplayer app that lets you find, identify, and share images of rocks . . . so you can know how many rocks there are. The app also identifies objects that are not rocks . . . sometimes. Because you need that in your life.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

The Internet Without Links

The Internet Without Links

Developer and HackNY alumnus Lisa Luo and comedian Joe Guzzardo presented Stripper, which is far less salacious than the name implies. It deactivates all links on Web pages, making it impossible to click to something new, thus eliminating the constant distraction the rest of the Internet represents.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Serious Business Picking a Winner

Serious Business Picking a Winner

Anil Dash, entrepreneur and activist; Aparna Nancheria, writer for "Late Night with Seth Meyers;" and Roy Wood Jr., correspondent with "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," served as judges for the evening.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Speak Your Mind Without Hurting Feelings

Speak Your Mind Without Hurting Feelings

Jenny Nelson and Matt Klinman said Strawbots is a group of bots on Twitter that spew out rancorous comments for the sole purpose of letting users publicly defy such hateful ideas, but without shaming or bullying a real person.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Winner: Getawaze

Winner: Getawaze

The Getawaze team created a navigation app that helps users identify, describe, and avoid contact with the police. These shareable descriptions of the police are based on fictional cops, who range from characters in "The Andy Griffith Show" to "Law & Order." It also asks you to indicate whether or not you are up to anything shady, so the next time you need to plan a getaway route . . .

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Xconomy New York — 

There will probably always be apps that serve little real-world use, or are so focused on technology that it is extremely hard for the average person to understand what they are for.

At last night’s New York Tech Meetup, a happy middle ground of mirth was found with a batch of apps created with comedy firmly in mind. Normally the monthly demos at NYTM, hosted by the New York Tech Alliance, feature ideas that are raw and in development from the local tech community. Monday played differently, showcasing the finalists from events company Cultivated Wit’s latest Comedy Hack Day.

NYTM and Cultivated Wit have worked together previously: in June 2015, four finalists from Comedy Hack Day went on stage alongside the usual demos. Last night was all about comedy and tech, with guest judges Anil Dash, Aparna Nancheria, and Roy Wood Jr. picking the ultimate winner (see slideshow above).

Evening host Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Cultivated Wit, said this was not just about goofing off, but to “humanize technology, which is in great need, and to expand the range and power and empathy that’s built into humor.” The teams worked on their ideas over this past weekend, at General Assembly in the Flatiron District, which saw 82 developers, designers, and comedians come together.

There were 94 ideas pitched at the hackathon, Thurston said. No one was allowed to bring prebuilt apps to the competition. Though they were not finalists, Thurston gave special mention to ideas such as WokeUpCall, a service that calls users’ phones throughout the day to remind them about systematic oppression; and Friendless, “which works like Seamless, except the delivery person stays and eats the meal with you.”