USC art student lets social network vote on life decisions

A USC graduate student fed up with people walking around absorbed in their cell phone screens starts a one-month art project today meant to connect people with the repercussions of online decisions and words.

Starting today, 34-year-old Master of Fine Art student Marc Horowitz will let people at TheAdviceOfStrangers.com vote on his daily decisions big and small – such as his therapist appointment today. "I’m wondering if I should go to that or if I should just skip it and go to the local donut shop and hang out with people," he said.

Horowitz will post videos to show people in the online social network he’s created the repercussions of their votes. "I want to lose control. I want this project to be about a loss of control of me and having his anonymous online community decide for me," he said.

Most online social networks don’t fulfill human craving for person-to-person connections, Horowitz says. Six years ago, to demonstrate how much people yearn for that kind of interaction, he created the National Dinner Tour. "I was able to write my name, 'Dinner with Marc' and put my cell phone underneath that. And that was on a dry erase board, on a desk, which was featured in a product shot in a Crate and Barrel catalogue," he said.

Tens of thousands of calls later he set out on the road and traveled for a year around the country sharing dinner with some of the people who responded. Last week America Online anointed Horowitz an “innovator” and “visionary” by selecting him for a $25,000 grant to keep doing what he’s doing.

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