It’s rare that I pay for an app these days. But minutiae is not only an app I paid for, but I paid a premium price for. At $14.99, it’s a steep price in the app world but I’m here to convince you that you need this now more than ever.
Minutiae, the anti-social media app
Minutiae is actually an art project disguised as an “anti-social media app” (their words, not mine).
Think about how we generally use social media. Facebook is often called In Your Facebook and instagram has become a photographic portfolio for aspirational living. We see the best of the best. Everyone’s smiling in just the right light. And if the light isn’t perfect, you can fix it.
I’m guilty of the same thing. I have people tell me that I always look good in photos, to which I reply, because I don’t post the ones where I look bad!
Minutiae sets out to help you capture ordinary moments of life. The dog laying on our bed, the family watching one more episode of tv, the dirty dishes sitting on the table in front of you. When I look at old photos, I look at the subject matter but I also look at everything around the subject to truly tell the story.
All these little bits and pieces not only make up moments that we wouldn’t otherwise remember but it also helps color the story of our lives.
So how exactly does Minutiae work?
It’s best described in the words of the app creators:
1. Once each day, at a random minute, all minutiae participants around the globe receive an alert simultaneously.
2. You have exactly one minute to respond to the alert and open the minutiae app.
3. Capture whatever is in front of you, there and then.
4. Once you’ve documented your moment, you have 60 seconds to explore previous moments. Both your own, and those of one random stranger you are matched with each day.
4. Repeat for 1440 days (once for every minute in 24 hours).
5. The final outcome of this long term collaboration between artist and participant is a digital archive of all of your captured moments, with the option to turn this archive into a physical book.
Just like they mention here, I get an 5 consecutive alerts on my phone when it’s time for minutiae. (My son and I both use the app so we’ll often yell out MINUTIAE! to each other to make sure we hear the alert.)
At that point, you open up the app and take a photo of what’s in front of you. No time to think or pose or filter or even turn the camera around. And if you don’t snap the photo, it will take the photo for you at the end of a 5 second countdown.
Then that minutiae, that tiny moment of your life, is captured in your stream and available to view by one random stranger.
Who is this random stranger?
This is a global project so people all over the world are using this app. And when the minutiae notification goes off, it goes off at the same time for all participants around the globe.
Once you capture your moment, you have a chance to swipe through all of the other moments you’ve captured up to that point. And/or you can click through to glimpse the feed of one random stranger somewhere in the world.
I’ve seen feeds from Sweden, Korea, California, England, China, New York, and even my brother-in-law just 20 miles away (who also uses the app). These aren’t sweeping pictures of major monuments of tourist attractions. It’s just other human beings, living their lives, which often look a lot like mine.
And don’t worry. You will miss many notifications. You’ll be sleeping for most of them. Or away from your phone. Whatever the reason, missing a notification says something about your life at that moment too, right?
Never have I felt so connected to people around the world as I do right now. In almost every country in the world, we’re home. We’re nervous or scared or sick or hopeful. We’re probably spending more time on our phones and computers. We’re watching more tv. And we’re also craving more human connection.
Just the other day, I was happily self-isolating at home when the app came alive and I captured one more photo of me sitting on the couch watching tv. Once I was done capturing the moment, I check to see the photo of a random stranger at that exact moment.
Turns out that it’s someone sitting on their couch looking at the tv in CANADA. In fact, the longer I participate in Minutiae (which has been since December 2018), the more I realize that our patterns of behavior are virtually the same all over the world.
Whether it’s Korea or Sweden or Russia or Pennsylvania, we all spend time with our families and pets. We all go to work, usually behind a computer, and we all congregate around the dinner table. We do travel to beautiful locations that are probably Instagram-worthy but what we share the most are the small intimate details of life. That’s what make us the same.
Capturing the Everyday
Even once life returns to normal, you’ll find that your feed mainly consists of your everyday moment. It will help you remember that one night you ordered Chinese takeout because you were too tired to cook. Or the time you watch 6 episodes in a row of The Flash because you were bored. And maybe you won’t even remember those moments, which makes them all the more important to capture.
Just take a took at my family room photos, taken nine months apart. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much as changed. But I can see the big differences. In the time span, I painted the walls. We pulled up the carpeting and laid bamboo flooring, which I covered with a beautiful modern rug. And I painstakingly refinished our entertainment unit.
It’s not an Instagram-worthy photo but it captures subtle details that I’ll remember for at least 1440 more days to come.
How Many Moments are Enough?
Trust me when I tell you that the older you get, the faster time moves. And you’ll want to remember as many moments as you can. But because this is an art project, it’s designed to capture 1440 moments of your life (approximately 4 years) representing every minute of a single day.
You’ll definitely miss some moments. You’ll be sleeping or away from your phone. And when all of your moments are used up, you’ll have a picture of four years of the parts of your life you might otherwise have forgotten.
THE minutiae MANIFESTO
YOU ARE NOT YOUR TIMELINE
Social media was supposed to keep us in touch with our friends but has instead turned us all into unwitting monkeys filling out the world’s longest consumer survey.
Facebook doesn’t want your money. It wants your time.
minutiae is a response to our current moment: an anonymous anti-social media app that forces its users to document the in-between moments of life.
A collaboration between artist and participant that retrieves forgotten moments and celebrates the ordinary.
minutiae IS NOT A NORMAL APP
minutiae does not provide instant gratification
minutiae is not interested in your data
minutiae will not increase your efficiency
minutiae is not a popularity contest
minutiae is (let’s be honest) not for everyone
minutiae IS YOUR AUTOMATED SELF-PORTRAIT
minutiae is random moments.
minutiae is forgotten memories.
minutiae is life. Real life. Uncurated. Unfiltered. Unfollowed.
minutiae is a marathon, not a sprint.
minutiae is available from the Apple App Store.