Space Email has since been shut down after accruing 16,416 messages in just under two days. Find out why here.
“It’s sort of like a one-sided conversation experiment,” Shelby begins to explain. “I wanted to see what kinds of things people would write without a conversation partner who could reply directly.”
In Space Email, you’re asked a question. It’s the following:
Given that context, you’re able to write up a message (anything you want) and send it off into space, as it were. Really, you’re just putting text into a server, where your message is then shuffled with all of the others that people have submitted.
Shelby was aware of what can happen when you give people freedom to write anonymously on the internet, but he’s considering Space Email an experiment, and so he’s expecting the best and worst of everything. He even tells me that he’s expecting a mix of really cool and interesting messages, and the YouTube comments section (trash talk), and so far, he’s been pleasantly surprised to find out that the former is dominant…for now.
That’s “Compose” button covered, but what does the “Refresh” button do, you may wonder. Quite simply, pressing the Refresh button churns out a random message that someone has written for you to read, if you wish.
I start to press the button under Shelly’s instruction and come across the most random messages. Some of them feel as if they were meant for a specific person in private, and you get a sense that you’re intruding, but it’s fine because what do they know?
“Wow, this one is mental,” I said to Shelby at one point. He’s eager to find out what I discovered, so I copy and paste it across.
“So are you all set to meet up at Dennys tomorrow? I have a meeting before than, but I should be able to get there by noon. Otherwise, I’ll let you know.
Sales Associate, Fortable Inc.
“It%u2019s Not the Years in Your Life That Count. It%u2019s the Life in Your Years” – Abraham Lincoln”
The message itself isn’t actually that mental, as I put it. What threw me was seeing something like this without its context, without being sent to the person it was apparently intended for. It’s just dumped on Space Email, an off-the-cuff message from a Sales Associate about meeting for Denny’s somewhere. What is it doing here? Shelby reckons that someone put it there as a little joke, but then I wonder about the apostrophe code, which may indicate that it’s just a random machine that put it in there.
Who knows? What matters is that it’s there for all to read now, and it’s a peculiar treat to have the personal (even if it isn’t) mixed up in a public space like this. A few seconds later, and I open up a new message, this time exclaiming, “Oh my god! This is like old internet!”
“FAMILY GUY IS AN EXCELLENT SHOW THE HUMOR IS TOP QUALITY WATCH FAMILYGUY SUNDAYS ON FOX AT FOX WITH FOX”
By “old internet,” I’m referring to the period in time when the internet was starting to gain traction, and just about anyone could start making their own websites with a little bit of know-how. As this was the case, and at this time, there were so proper social networks around, people made their own personal spaces with a website. And the best thing is that because this was a time of discovery, people would be very creative with graphics and layouts to better express themselves through this virtual space.
They’d usually post whatever interested them in there, perhaps what they watched last night, and maybe they gave their brief opinion, or perhaps they had bought a new dress and wanted to show it off, so they took pictures and spent all night uploading them.
The delightful thing about this is that you could browse the internet, sifting through all of these personal websites, and you’d come across the most bizarre designs and interests. Reading barely literate reviews of crap products or discovering what someone ate for breakfast and how delicious it was. You know, just people’s lives. It was weird, but fascinating.
Sure enough, Shelby then says to me that this era of the internet was one of the main inspirations for Space Email.
I start refreshing for messages like a king. For several minutes, I’m trying to find the several parts of this extensive and scathing Nintendo GameCube review, which then led to another person replying to them through Space Email, calling them an “impotent retard” and threatening to throw them the buoy so they can then “escape the sea of shit and become a slightly more informed, landlocked retard.”
My only feature request of Space Email would be to favorite or save certain messages so that you can come back to them later with ease and read them like little bits of treasure. At the moment, once a message has scrolled past the small screen, it disappears until it’s randomly selected out of the many that are on there. It’s a very joyous moment when they come back, which makes the refreshing part of Space Email sometimes very rewarding, which is part of the point of it.
Space Email launched publicly today; have a browse and see what you find. Maybe even leave a message for others to find.