In his book Shaping Things, Bruce Sterling imagines a future where objects are tagged, tracked, and all tell their own stories. He calls these objects “spimes.” I read the book years ago, but it was the first thing I thought of when I visited SendMeHome.
The site is wacky but brilliant. It lets you register any object with a unique code, which is printed out on a small sticker that you place on the object. The object can be anything from your wallet or iPhone to a beloved frying pan. Ostensibly, the purpose of doing this is that if you should ever lose the object, anyone who finds it can contact you through SendMeHome. By entering the code on the sticker, they can learn anything you’ve decided to share about yourself or the object, and can contact you anonymously. SendMeHome offers this service for free, but charges $3.99 for a pack of stickers. (It doesn’t get involved in actually getting your item back to you).
The lost-and-found feature is the only practical reason you would use the service. But once you’ve attached a sticker to a favorite object and registered it on the site, there are other things you can do with it. You can tell a story about the object, pass it around, or put it on a mission. It is on its way to becoming a spime,. These spimes are “always associated with a story. . . . they are protagonists of a documented process,” as Sterling once described it.
SendMeHome lets people create a very rudimentary version of a spime. Anyone who enters the code found on the SendMeHome sticker can add to the object’s story in a blog-like format which incorporates Google Maps, YouTube videos, and uploaded photos. For instance, here is the story of a disposable camera that was left on a bench in LA with instructions for passersby to take photo with it. (They did). And here’s another one of a bacon frying pan, which instructs people to cook their favorite bacon recipe in the pan, document it with photos, and pass it along to another bacon lover. Every object has a story which SendMeHome lets you unlock.
There are flavors of the social game Akoha here, with its bar-coded cards and playful missions set in the real world. SendMeHome should be getting more social itself now that it has a Facebook app and has integrated its site with Facebook Connect. To encourage people to use its new Facebook app, it is putting up prizes worth $1,000 for whoever can create the SendMeHome stories on Facebook with the most followers by May 4.
The company has been bootsrrapped with $50,000 from founders Andrew Lee and James Tamplin.