The marvelous Captology Notebook updates us on Current and Ongoing Projects, including the Mobile Jokes Project:
In our increasingly mirthless world, it's sometimes difficult to know what's funny. Relief is on the way. Our lab is creating a free service that will play jokes for you over the phone – any phone. Waiting in line? Stuck in traffic? Need to appear busy? Just call in, listen and (we hope) laugh. However, the project isn't just fun and games, it's hard research. Once callers listen to a joke, they're asked to rate it. Once we have enough ratings, we'll start to analyze the data to determine which jokes are funniest to people in general, which jokes college students like, what jokes do women prefer, and more. You get the idea.
So what's the point? First, we're exploring how humor can persuade callers and/or reward them for specific kinds of behavior. The second purpose is to create a new system for evaluating content. Our first evaluation system was deployed on the web last year and it's proved extremely useful. As a result, we've decided to extend this evaluation to capture data from mobile phone users.
When our joke engine service is ready, we'll send out the phone number.