TechCrunch Disrupt NYC is a showcase for tech startups, which seems to almost universally mean apps. But Whit.li, one of the standouts from the show in the Pier 94 industrial warehouse, is an API, not an app. Whit.li uses social media, like Facebook status updates and shared links, to extrapolate the user’s personality. The existing version is more of a proof-of-concept, essentially a playable demo of some possible uses for Whit.li-based apps. One of those uses was to suggest introductions, based on projected compatibility and shared interests, between TechCrunch attendees.
I signed up with Whit.li’s demo, and talked a friend into signing up as well, overcoming the reluctance we all have with connecting experimental apps of unknown origin to Facebook. Sadly, Whit.li parses your public Facebook posts to determine your personality and compatibility, so that’s the only way to try out Whit.li. If you can’t talk a real life friend into trying it with you, you can compare scores with Jon Stewart, Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton.
Whit.li called my personality type Satisfied, and adds that these types feel they have risen above the problems of living and are content with things as they are. They see little point in getting involved in a rat-race to struggle to the top of the heap. Whit.li assesses only the things I chose to post on Facebook and share publicly, and I tend not to vent about ambitious deadlines at work, or worries about the future in my status updates.There’s a good amount of real satisfaction on my Facebook page, with a strong streak of not clogging up your feed with moans about work and late trains.
I couldn’t blow this off entirely, since my friend’s chosen personality type was dead on, and we figured that a 92% travel compatibility sounded about right.
Whit.li shows whether a user’s mood is trending up or down, which could be a thoroughly useful extra sense. Ideally, I’d be able to check my boss’ mood before asking for a raise (in a totally contented sort of way, I mean, I don’t really need the extra money), or my fictional husband could see I’m having a rough day before I get home.
One of the potential uses of Whit.li is for human resources, finding out if potential new hires would be a good fit for the existing team. My Satisfied personality type could read as unambitious, or a relaxed teammate. A quick view of other personality types revealed a mix of positive and potentially negative traits on all of them, cutting quickly through the usual job interview questions about one’s strengths and weaknesses.
Another potential uses are collective consumerism and brand engagement, allowing brands to learn more about their customers, and would-be shoppers to see the relevance of other reviewers. But even once this is up and running, any advertisers can probably skip targeting me, since according to Whit.li, I don’t really need anything — I’m content right now.