06 August 2018
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The Blog That Pretends it's Only About T-Shirts

When I Go For a Walk

I wear one of my hundreds of T-shirts.* I have hundreds of T-shirts because I've been collecting them for half a century. Although some are no longer suitable for their intended purpose, many are. Included among them are those from companies both defunct and extant, rock bands whose members have gone their separate ways, and many too idiosyncratic to characterize. But in almost all cases, they have certain characteristics in common:

  • They fit, more or less
  • They are mine
  • They say something not just about their creators and purveyors, but about me as well
  • I can only wear one at a time

Most humans have an urge to "connect" with others of their ilk. (I've not only read this on the internet, I've occasionally experienced it myself.) Yet there is nothing obvious about my appearance that suggests that I am an opera fan (which I am not) or a rock fan (which I am). To divine either, one might read this blogitem, or possibly just ask me. But when I'm taking that walk, the only way I can demonstrate a preference, short of festooning myself with loudspeakers blasting Led Zeppelin, is by wearing one of my rock & roll T-shirts.

How Horribly Generic

How does this facilitate ilk-connection? Inefficiently at best. While I wear my Heart or Aerosmith T-shirt, how would anyone observing me on the hoof know that I'm a big Marillion fan? We're dedicated and enthusiastic, but rarely observe each other in person because Marillion is a UK band and rarely forms a nexus in the United States around which fans may congregate. If I wore a Marillion T-shirt every day, I might perhaps once a year be accosted by someone who was also a fan. That's impractical for me, and presumably for others since I have never seen one worn by anyone else. An invisible ilk, hence a lack of connection.

How does one overcome this visibility limitation? Make all your current T-shirts invisible, at least to others, and create a single new one. Using an incredibly clever slogan which I have yet to come up with, and a prize-winning logo, which someone who isn't art-challenged might create, this new T-shirt will advertise that all my T-shirts are on my smartphone and are at this moment being broadcast on Bluetooth. It will suggest that you load a certain app (yet to be written, of course) that will allow your smartphone to receive my Tees while broadcasting your own Tees to my phone.

Is There a Match?

If there is, perhaps I have a new friend! If not, we pass each other in ignorance of the potential encounter. Of course everyone will want to avoid "false positives." It would hardly do to find something in common with everyone using this app. Fine tuning will be necessary, along with perhaps the strategic omission of some of your more embarrassing T-shirts, the ones languishing in the bottom of the box you haven't opened from two moves ago.

By Their Music Shall Ye Know Them

To expand ever so slightly on the T-shirt theme, you might also take a cue from the music streaming services and transmit one or more of your "playlists" as well. If the app in your phone finds a cooperative one nearby, they can "compare" the lists and if there is sufficient commonality, softly whisper "Bingo" in your ear buds, or possibly even vibrate with anticipatory enthusiasm.

You're Way Ahead of Me

Even I'm not so naive as to be unaware of the other potential social applications for cooperating smartphones. I've been wondering why such apps don't (so far as I know, of course) exist. It's a splendid commercial opportunity, and in the manner of the other burgeoning social networks, can easily be monetized.

I was planning to further expatiate on this app opportunity and its monetization, but between the title of this blogitem and the basic idea, I believe I've done enough.

Have I not?

* What about the rest of my ensemble, you ask? While I give careful consideration to the selection of the day's T-shirt, sometimes as much as 20 seconds, the rest doesn't occupy me as much. I'll occasionally wear a baseball cap if it's hot and very sunny and if I remember. My sock selection is a no-op, my sneakers have their own algorithm, and my jeans keep the forces for decency at bay.

Richard Factor

"Saturday Freedom"
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WFMU is (or possibly was) a free-form radio station in the New York City area. You never quite knew what you would get when you tuned in. Once they even interviewed me on the telephone about profanity delay units. I never gave them a reason to use one, however.

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