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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Ambitious app creates new View on social networking

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In the library on a Tuesday night, there sits students near each other doing various scholarly things. Some read, some take notes. All of them, however, are being tracked by a new smart phone app called View.

What is View? Well, perhaps it’s best to start with what it’s not. It is not Facebook, in that it makes no attempt to be a place to share thoughts or pictures. It is not Tinder, in that there is no way to message or even contact other app users.

Instead, View is an app that wants to show you where people are on campus. This means it uses the GPS on your phone to show you pictures of other people nearby. If someone in the library is visually intriguing, one simply opens the app and finds out his or her name.

It is, indeed, just that simple. There are no status updates, no pictures to upload, just a long list of pictures of the people nearby. If you click on a person’s photo to find out their class year or dorm, it counts as a “view.” The number of views a person has is displayed prominently.

This view counting may become competitive. Student View user JP Beaty (’19) said he and his friends try to rack up the views. “I don’t [get competitive about views] on a personal level,” Mr. Beaty said, “But on a group level, we’re like, ‘oh, we’re the top six spots on View right now.’ And we view each other to make that happen.”

In tandem with a possible competitive component, the app intends to create an intra-collegiate database of students. If two people view each other, there is a notification sent to both phones with the other person’s name, similar to a Tinder match. Yet, the utility of this is limited because there is no way to message the other person.

View is a nascent app that has not been fully developed or entrenched. It is not possible, for instance, to delete a View profile once created. It also may not be desirable for some users to let others know your location at all times, even if it is only given vaguely as a feet distance away.

Still, perhaps the most ambitious part of the View app is its lack of ambition.

That is, instead of attempting to create a network that replaces human interaction (Facebook), it attempts to aid human interaction by giving some details that might start a conversation. If you know someone has viewed you, and you have viewed him or her, it might provide the confidence to introduce yourself.

Yet, whether the app will achieve this function remains to be seen. As Mr. Beaty summarized, “If I really wanted to know somebody’s name, I would just go up and be like, ‘Hey, what’s your name?!’ I don’t feel like I need this digital intermediary for it.”

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