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The Death of Small Talk, or Why Does The NSA Have All the Fun?

07/10/2013 07:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 09, 2013

By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

At first glance this app beta that Laughing Squid's Kimber Streams wrote up today sounds innocuous enough:

Refresh is an iOS app that uses data from social networks and other online sources to provide users with a quick, 30-second briefing on anyone you're meeting.

But take a look at the promo image on the sign-up page:

"Congratulate Bhavin on this post..."

There's a subtle line here being crossed in how this app presents itself that goes from "we'll gather a bunch of links that will help you survive your meeting without embarrassing yourself" and right into "here's how to act, dummy."

We might all be turning into cyborgs, but that doesn't mean that we have to sound like them, or take our marching orders from Siri's second cousin.

As someone who interviews people for a living I can tell you: it is way more interesting to discover who a person is in conversation than it is to "get a snapshot of their lives - passions, achievements, jobs, trips taken, close friends, interests". A little preparation is a good thing, but a digest--especially one that is vulnerable to errant search engine responses--like this takes us right into surreal, NSA creep territory.

This is one beta I'll be taking a pass on.

Originally published on Turnstylenews.com, a digital information service surfacing emerging stories in news, entertainment, art and culture; powered by award-winning journalists.

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