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
In the annals of Gotham’s crimefighting superheroes, Abby Weissman might not go down as one of the all-time greatest.
But at least he will be noted for capturing a dog pooping on camera and, far more important, that doggie’s caretaker not picking it up.
Faster than a speeding bullet, he posted it on Facebook:
In the post, Weissman fires a first blow in his quest for justice, and calls upon others to join in fighting the scourge of canine caretakers who don’t pick up after their charges — by submitting photos and videos of scofflaws caught in the act to his block association’s Facebook page.
Weissman is president of the South Oxford Street Block Association in New York’s Fort Greene neighborhood.
The association started a “Dog Walkers Hall of Shame” campaign July 30, after his home security camera captured a dog walker, busy with her cell phone, walking away from the mess the dog had just deposited on the sidewalk in front of his house.
Weissman hopes a little public humiliation will be more effective than the seldom enforced “pooper scooper” law, and its $250 fines.
Since 2013, 63 “pooper scooper” violations have been issued in Brooklyn, DNAInfo reports. An officer must witness the incident to issue a summons, according to the Department of Sanitation.
Weissman, like any good superhero, seemed to take a great deal of pride in catching the scofflaw, at least on video. “We always wanted a photo or video or someone actually letting their dog shit and purposefully leaving it there. Here it is, thanks to Dropcam.”
I’m all for owners taking responsibility for what their dogs drop, and all for laws enforcing that. And I’m fine with fines.
I’m just not so sure we have to view it all in terms of a “war,” and I question whether all the high tech weapons being seized upon — like hidden cameras, and sending dog poop to laboratories to see if its DNA can be matched to a particular dog — are a bit of an over-reaction, better used on terrorists than people who don’t pick up dog poop.
I have a problem with public “shaming,” too — whether it’s being used on deadbeat dads, the customers of prostitutes, or those who fail to pick up dog waste. It reminds me of those stocks and pillories we used to punish wrongdoers in colonial times. I’d like to think we’ve become a little more civilized since then. And I’d like to think we’re smart enough to realize people who engage in shameful behavior often don’t have a huge sense of shame in the first place.
Most of all I’m puzzled about how we let something with such a simple solution become so huge, and gobble up so much time, money and technology. How much is being wasted sending dog waste through the mail for analysis in laboratories? How many hours did Weissman spend watching video to pinpoint the culprit who pooped in front of his house?
Sometimes I think our species is prone to escalating anything that can possibly escalated.
Perhaps a psychologist could explain that to me.
In the meantime, can’t we all just pick it up?
Posted by John Woestendiek August 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, association, block, brooklyn, cameras, cams, dna, dog, dog walker, dog walkers hall of shame, dogs, dogwalker, dropcam, escalation, facebook, fight, fort greene, hall of shame, humiliation, law, new york, pets, poop, pooping, public, responsibility, scoop, scooper, security, shamed, shaming, shit, sidewalk, solutions, south oxford street, technology, testing, war, waste
Boulder City Councilwoman Mary Young wants to know how feasible it would be to require DNA samples from dogs, and create a registry so that, through DNA analysis, poop left on city trails could be traced to dog owners.
She’s not suggesting every dog in Boulder be tested (yet) — just the estimated 35,000 with so-called “green tags” that allow them to romp off-leash on some of the city’s trails and greenspaces.
Young has asked that the issue be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting, the Boulder Daily Camera reports. (Yes, it happens to be an April Fools Day meeting, but nobody’s joking here.)
I would hope Boulder looks not just at whether it can be done (it can), but at whether it should be — that city leaders consider, in addition to the price tag of such a venture, the ethics and implications and utter goofiness of it.
There’s a lot of dog-related technology I don’t like (click the banner at the top of this page for one example) and poop-detection technology is near the top of the list.
Not just because of its Orwellian overtones, not just because it’s heavy-handed, dictatorial, silly, creepy, intrusive and expensive. It’s also because technology, unleashed, has a habit of oozing beyond the boundaries of its originally intended purpose — DNA-testing of dog poop being just such a case — and spreading into ever scarier realms.
The day could still come when your tossed cigarette butt, un-recycled soda can or expectorated phlegm could be traced back to you, which, come to think of it, might be a better use of DNA technology than that being offered by the dog poop sleuths.
Declaring war on poop, and bringing out technology’s big guns, is overkill. Especially when the real solution can be achieved by simply bending over and picking up what your dog leaves behind.
In case you haven’t been following our posts on this issue, here’s how it works:
Deciding unscooped dog poop is simply intolerable, homeowners associations, apartment complexes or government entities sign up with a company called PooPrints, which sends them the supplies needed for residents to take swabs from the cheeks of their dogs. Those are sent to Tennessee, and a doggie DNA registry is created.
After that, any pile of poop that is found can be gathered, packaged and sent to a lab in Tennessee, where it can be unpackaged and tested and, by comparing DNA markers, matched to an individual dog, assuming that dog’s DNA is in the registry.
The company lets management know who the poopetrator was, and the owner is fined $100 or so — or, if a repeat offender, perhaps told they and/or their dog should move somewhere else. Thereby a community is made safe from scofflaws, as well as, say, a grandmother whose back might have been hurting too much one day to pick up every last dropping left by her Shih Tzu.
Here in my current home state, North Carolina, apartment complexes in Winston-Salem and Wilmington are among the growing number of property management companies and government entities turning to PooPrints.
Yes, dog poop can be hazardous to our health, and harmful to the environment.
So can the feces of all the non-domesticated animals we live among, but don’t feel compelled to prosecute for pooping.
So, too, can the dumpage of corporate entities, like the thousands of tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy, coating 70 miles of the river with toxic sludge.
That’s a little harder to pick up after, and, I’d suggest, at least as deserving of society’s consternation and oversight and vigilance as dog poop — even if punishing the culprit won’t make them change their ways. (Big companies, unlike the average dog owner, can hire lawyers to avoid fines, and, if unsuccessful, they just pass the costs along to their customers.)
Finding clean sources of energy — that’s a use of technology I like. Using DNA to solve murders (and clear the wrongly convicted) seems a good use, too.
But gathering, packaging and mailing dog poop so technicians in Tennessee can comb through it and test it, by comparison, seems a silly use of our technological muscles.
In Colorado, Boulder officials say dog waste on public trails is one of the most common complaints the city receives, so it’s not surprising that they’d turn to a company that claims to have the solution.
Eric Mayer, director of business development for BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., said the company’s PooPrint service is used by private property management companies in 45 states and in Canada. Franchises are popping up all over, like Burger Kings.
So far, the company doesn’t have contracts with any municipalities, but officials have been in talks with a half dozen different local governments. He said he expects to sign the first municipal PooPrints contract with Ipswich, Mass., sometime this year.
Maybe, if poop detection continues to catch on, it would be good for the economy. Maybe, you too could have a fulfilling career as a dog poop laboratory technician.
But there are far better ways to spend our time and money, and far bigger problems more deserving of our rage. Between all the emotion, and all the technology, we seem to forget that we can simply …
Pick it up!
(Top photo, fake poop question mark, from Big Mouth Toys; bottom photo, sludge from the Dan River spill, courtesy of Dan River Basin Association)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amok, animals, apartments, biopet, boulder, clean, coal ash, colorado, communities, dan river, detection, dna, dog, dog owners, dog related technology, dogs, duke energy, dump, dumping, enforcement, ethics, feces, fine, franchises, genetics, identify, laboratory, markers, north carolina, owners, pets, poop, pooprints, questions, registry, responsibility, samples, scoop, shit, spill, swabs, technology, waste, wilmington, winston-salem
Here’s a handy tip to keep dogs from doing their business in those sidewalk tree wells — one that works better than bricks, better than fences, and is all but guaranteed to keep those disease-carrying beasts from tainting our otherwise pristine urban tree life:
Take cuttings from thorny plants, like rose bushes, and spread them around the tree.
It may sound like a tip from Satan’s Helpful Household Hints (not a real book, to our knowledge). But it’s actually the advice offered by a Baltimore neighborhood association bedeviled by dog poop that’s not getting picked up.
The advice came in the January newsletter of the Fells Prospect Community Association.
“… You can make it clear that you don’t want pets approaching by planting thorny plants (roses, bayberry), or covering your tree pit with pine cones or cuttings from thorny plants that are uncomfortable for dogs to walk on. A sign will also encourage some people to move their dog to the next house.”
Of course moving on to the next house isn’t really the answer — is it? — unless dog and walker keep doing so until they are outside the boundaries of Fells Prospect, a neighborhood near Fells Point and Butcher Hill. Even then, the problem isn’t over. It has just moved somewhere else.
Even if every single resident of Fells Prospect adopted a tree well, nurturing it and the tree it contained (be it a live one or a dead one), even if they filled said well with thorns, lead paint chips, discarded hypodermic needles and perhaps a few strands of barbed wire, that’s all — other than some canine and human casualties — that would be achieved.
This is a hardly a new issue. In big and densely packed cities, there are few options when it comes to dogs relieving themselves. Everything is so paved over that a tiny patch of turf or dirt surrounding a tree is the only place for dogs to go. So dogs go there. Responsible dog owners, at least, pick it up. But some dog owners, like some community association officials, are thoughtless and uncaring.
So the tired old battle wages on — escalating to levels that could involve bloodshed — when, if everyone would just pick up their dog’s feces, it could finally shut the whiners up, or at least most of them.
Setting booby traps that puncture and maim is not the answer.
It’s generally accepted that the best route is education, perhaps along with some enforcement of the law that threatens $1,000 fines for unscooped poop.
It’s generally true that a tree well that is well-maintained, with a healthy tree, and some flowers around it, will be avoided, if not by the dog, at least by their walker. Ace and I always tried to steer around those when we lived in Baltimore. Sure, we’d come across dog poop on the sidewalk from time to time — just as we’d come across rats, both dead and alive, dirty needles and used condoms, and once in my backyard, a buried handgun.
Baltimore has bigger problems than dog poop. That’s not to say unscooped dog poop shouldn’t be addressed, only that it makes sense to do so with some perspective, in a reasonable matter that doesn’t involve installing weapons of mass destruction.
Alisa Peters, owner of You Silly Dog, was one of those that expressed concern about the community association’s advice: “It’s going to be uncomfortable and/or painful for the dog,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “Why are we punishing the dog? It’s not the dog’s fault.”
Veterinarian Gregory Burbelo, owner of the Boston Street Animal Hospital, which advertises in the newsletter, told The Sun he plans to ask the association to retract its comments.
“It’s sort of trickery,” he said. “It hurts the dog but doesn’t serve as a warning to the owner to keep the dog out.” While a dog may have a fair chance avoiding a thorny bush planted in a tree well, sharp clippings spread across the ground could go unseen and lead to injuries.
Officials of the Fells Prospect Community Association declined to comment to The Sun, including Phyllis Fung, who co-founded Cut the Crap Baltimore last year to combat dog waste in the neighborhood. She’s the association’s secretary.
Making the issue even more thorny is the fact that residents don’t own the sidewalks, or the tree wells within those sidewalks, so they lack the right to install booby traps in the first place.
Worse yet, any such traps could injure not just dogs whose owners are scofflaws, but those belonging to law-abiding, poop-scooping owners as well.
“We’re ignoring the fact that we’re attempting to punish 100 percent of the animals for the issues of 10 percent of owners who are irresponsible,” dog owner and neighborhood resident John Lam told the newspaper.
“I’m hoping people will ignore [the suggestions]. There are are a lot of homeowners who think they own their tree pits and don’t realize they’re in the public right-of-way. I have a big concern that people will start putting stuff in the tree pits to hurt dogs.”
(Top photo by Gail Langellotto; graphic from Cut the Crap Baltimore)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animals, baltimore, booby trap, city, clippings, community association, dog poop, dogs, feces, fells prospect, hazards, inhumane, living, newsletter, pets, pine cones, poop, scoop, sidewalks, solutions, suggestion, thorns, thorny, tip, urban
The Huffington Post reported that the “Les Misérables” star was walking her dog on the day after Christmas and found herself being followed by a man with a camera.
When Esmerelda pooped, Hathaway dutifully scooped it up in a yellow plastic bag, and knotted the top.
Then, the website reports, she placed the bag on the windshield of the unidentified photographer’s car and walked away.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animals, anne hathaway, bag, car, dog, dogs, entertainment, esmerelda, les miserables, movies, paparazzi, paparazzo, pets, photographer, poop, pooparazzi, scoop, waste, windshield
There might not be any town as intent — you might even say obsessed — with wiping out dog poop as Brunete, Spain.
First, officials in the town on the outskirts of Madrid launched a social awareness campaign, aimed at encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
Part of it included a remote control pile of poop on wheels, which approached citizens bearing the message “Don’t leave me, pick me up!”
“The amount of dog poo on our streets dropped considerably as a result,” a town spokesman is quoted as saying in this article.
When “volume” started rising again, the town opted for a sneakier approach — though it, too, has an in-your-face element.
In February of this year, officials in the town of 10,100 assigned 20 volunteers to patrol the streets in search of dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs.
Upon seeing an offense, the undercover volunteers approach the owners and strike up a casual conversation — not mentioning the poop, just feigning interest in the dog and asking about its name and breed.
Once the dog walker departs, the volunteer would pick up the dog poop and put it in a box. Then, using the town’s database of registered dogs, they find out the address of the dog walker. Then they’d deliver the surprise package by hand to the pet owner’s home, along with an official warning.
If that weren’t embarassing enough, they film the reunions between dog owners and their dog’s poop.
Brunete Town Hall estimates the program has reduced the amount of unpicked up dog waste by 70 percent.
Officials aren’t sure whether it’s the threat of the fine, receiving a package of poop, or getting humiliated on camera that’s doing the trick, but they say the program seems to be working.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, brunete, campaign, clean up, control, deliver, dog, dog owners, dog poop, dog walkers, dogs, feces, fines, home, pets, pick-up, pile, poo, poop, remote, scoop, sidewalks, spain, streets, town, warnings, waste