Pooper, that new app that promised to send a human to scoop up your dog’s poop on demand — Uber-style — was, as we suspected, a bunch of crap.
Its originators have now confessed — to Newsweek and others — that it was a hoax, or, to put it nicely, “an art project that satirizes our app-obsessed world.”
While a good many media outlets presented the story with at least a little skepticism — skepticism being easier than getting to the bottom of the story — more than a few fell for it hook, line and sinker.
After its initial announcement, Pooper garnered media attention from around the world.
Even the Washington Post treated it as (mostly) legit.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of sign-ups,” Ben Becker told Newseek. Becker came up with a hoax with a friend, Elliot Glass. “People have been signing up to be both poopers and scoopers.”
Becker, a creative director in the advertising world, and Glass, a designer and web developer in Los Angeles, hatched the idea this past winter during a discussion about navel-gazing startup culture.
“We wanted to begin a project that reflected the state of technology—specifically apps,” says Becker in a phone interview. “Taking the visual signifiers and language and the entire world and inhabiting it, inserting an absurd purpose for it. In this case, that would be dog poop.”
Throughout the spring, Becker and Glass spent weekends and late nights plotting “Pooper,” an inane but otherwise believable app that parodies Silicon Valley’s brand of innovation: It purports to solve a problem that doesn’t exist unless you are very rich and lazy.
Whether you see it as a satirical art project, social experiment, or scam, the whole thing did show how gullible we, as a species, are; how increasingly gullible (and lazy) much of the news media has become; and how all is not peachy with our economy.
It’s not like 99 percent of us signed up to clean up after the one percent’s dogs, but a lot more signed up to be scoopers than did those thinking they might want to use the service.
Becker and Glass used Uber as a model for the app and website, issued a press release and put together a demo video. They claimed the project was in the beta testing phase in a few major cities.
News organizations couldn’t resist the story.
As Newsweek reported, some publications “wrote about Pooper in a skeptical, this-is-maybe-fake-but-we’re-going-to-write-about-it-anyway voice, which is increasingly how bloggers write up hoaxy stories as a way of scooping up traffic without touching shit.”
(We’d agree, and that’s what we did. Then again, there’s not too many dog poop stories we ignore, and it was one of my websites that, tongue in cheek, promoted the idea of dog poop valets years ago.)
Ludicrous as it may sound, it, and the phony Pooper app, are not entirely outlandish ideas. There are some aging and afflicted folks who might need help with the task. And — apologies to all my very close professional dog walker friends — but is having one walk and clean up after one’s dog really that different?
Becker and Glass told Newsweek they are at work on other undisclosed schemes — even though they’ve already proven that their high tech hijinks are not to be trusted.
That’s kind of their point.
“We’d like people to question what they’re reading in the news, question what they’re looking at online and question what their own relationship is to technology,” Becker said.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, app, apps, dog, dog poop, dogs, hoax, internet, on demand, pets, poop, pooper, satire, satirical, scam, scoop, scoopers, technology, uber
Just as Uber will whisk you where you need to go, the folks behind the new app Pooper — that’s right, Pooper — promise to pounce on and dispose of your dog’s poop, for a small fee, of course.
If it sounds like one of those hoax apps, well that’s entirely possible.
But until it’s exposed as such, I’m going to take it seriously — I, after all, having come up with the idea of poop valets long ago.
True, my idea was a bit more fanciful, and didn’t have an app; and true my idea was clearly tongue in cheek, unlike Pooper, whose professional-looking website leaves you thinking, hey, this might be real.
There, if they are to be believed, they have recruited the on-call staff necessary to answer your call when your dog answers nature’s.
Actually, no call is even necessary, assuming you are a subscriber. Just take a photo of your dog’s mess and send it on to the app. The location is sent out to all members of the local scooping team, who we we can only presume are standing by excitedly.
One of them accepts the mission — we assume they are on a first come, first served basis — and goes to the scene and cleans it up.
Pooper, as the ad above puts it, allows you to put “your dog’s poop in someone else’s hands.”
Three kinds of monthly “subscriptions” are available, according to the pooperapp website.
For $15 a month, you get two scoops a day within a 15-mile radius; for $25, you get three scoops a day over a 30-mile radius (and yes, you can rollover unused scoops); for $35 you can have the “elite plan,” unlimited scoops, unlimited radius.
Pooper says the service is good for the environment.
And just like Uber drivers, Pooper scoopers — for whom we don’t imagine there will be too intense a screening process — could cash in.
Scoopers will be able to sign up for scooping duties, though the website says no more are needed during the Beta period.
“Anyone with a smart phone can scoop for us. Scoopers are paid per-scoop, use their own mode of transportation – car, bike, scooter, hiking boots – and scoop on their own schedule,” says the website.
Even though they ripped off my idea, I hold no ill will against the people behind Pooper — at least not until they get unbelievably rich. (Then I will have all kinds of ill will.)
In today’s world, such intellectual thefts have become commonplace, though I must admit they run counter to my very personal belief that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.
Besides, I’m busy brainstorming a new project that just might put Pooper out of business, if they are really in business to begin with.
That involves coming up with a way to get all those people already walking the streets while playing Pokémon Go to pick up dog poop for free.
Bonus points, maybe.
(Photos and video from Pooperapp.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, app, clean up, dog, dog poop, dogs, feces, hoax, pets, pick-up, Pokémon, pokemon go, poop, poop valet, pooper, pooper app, scoop, scoopers, scooping, uber, waste