Mobile madness

You're reading Mikko Saari's blog Life and opinions. This entry was written 12/30/2003, at 19:29.

If you want read more of my entries in the same topic, this entry belongs to the category of Geek stuff.

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There's one TV phenomena you can't and shouldn't miss in Finland: mobile chats. Nearly all TV channels have them. The concept is simple: viewers can send SMS messages which are then displayed on TV. Each messages costs from 80 cents to one euro. There's usually a host who's either (usually) a pretty young lady (who might have some popular guests) or faceless commentor whose only presence is in the form of text messages. There are also moderators, who check each incoming message for swearing, phone numbers, racist messages or other nasty stuff - of course, you'll have to pay even if your message isn't shown.

This goes on during the nights and as you can guess, it's a good way to make money. On the bigger channels the chats are so popular there can easily be a lag of over 30 minutes. After all, there's a limit for the speed of the displayed messages.

What about the content, then? Well, most of it is looking for company. "17yo stud looking for willing women in Helsinki". Or "Bob rules, John is an idiot". Or "How much is the lag?". If there's a pretty young female host, "host show your tits" is a classic. Sometimes on the smaller and more quiet chats there's been actual conversation. Lag of 30 minutes kills all conversation, that's for sure.

Anyway, there's a new development. The chats have changed slowly all the time, with new, small inventions coming up. One great idea was special VIP messages, which cost more but skip the lag. Latest invention is the use of computer speech software to read the messages. People want the hosts to read their messages aloud - well, the computer does exactly that. First time I saw it, there was an animation of Santa Claus who read the messages people sent. Then I saw it in the night chat: there was the typical host and she was accompanied with an animated computer head. There's another number where you can send SMS messages to be read by the head. Their price is double the normal price, 1,6 euros.

Now that's hilarious. There's a silly animated head with it's broken Finnish computer voice and a host, talking over each other. Then there are dozens of people complaining: "get rid of the head!". Which is of course all good and well from the point of view of the people who collect the money: the money's the same whether people are writing their typical silly messages or complaining about the head. Now I'm just waiting for the moment they get rid of the human hosts. After all, computer does the job for free!

Well, the human hosts do generate lots of "show your tits" messages, so I suppose they do earn their salaries. Also, I don't think they are paid too well. Their base salary must be pretty low - of course it's really higher because they get night and weekend bonuses. Still, it's probably not the best paid job ever.

The computer speech can be funny when it's put to say something hilarious, at least my sense of humour is low enough to enjoy that. Now I'm just anxious to see what they invent next to spice up the good old SMS chatting!

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Posted by: saleena at September 13, 2004 12:17 AM

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