There isn't an app for that

I've been thinking a lot about this story: a woman in Wales who found a message in a bottle from a Newfoundland fisherman.  The bottle had traveled 5,000 Km over a year to end up on a Welsh beach.

The story is wonderful, and simple, and easy to understand.  It's also impossible to translate into a digital equivalent.  The idea of a fisherman sending a message of 30 odd words from his boat, across the ocean, to a woman on a beach walking her dogs?  Well, it's not exactly news worthy.  He could send an email or tweet from his phone.

It's trivial to send and receive the equivalent of a "message in a bottle"'s worth of text across the globe.  And yet, I can't think of a credible way to reproduce the experience of sending and receiving this in digital form.  It's less that it involves paper and glass, and more the mix of uncertainty, aimlessness, time, distance, coincidence, unexpectedness, and serendipity.

Could you make a service like this?  You write something, and have it randomly arrive in someone else's inbox.  That's spam.  The thrill of seeing something you don't expect?  The skepticism required to use the modern web makes looking at things you don't expect almost dangerous.  "Click this link!"  No thank you.

I love discovering natural phenomenon that don't translate into virtual experiences, which help to reveal the edges of what is and what could be.

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