At New York Tech Meetup last night, comedian Brian Fountain regaled members of the NYC tech community with his latest invention, a children’s app that’s really for adults. His previous hack, Couch Cachet, takes the work out of looking awesome on social media by faking check-ins, Tweets, Instagram pics, and status updates.
Like Couch Cachet, Fountain’s newest hack solves a modern annoyance that only a comedian would think to solve and only a hacker could execute (Toby Muresianu is his co-conspirator) — and only I, with my apparent unquenchable fixation with silly hacks, would care to write about.
The name of the iPad app is Magic Story Maker. It takes the pain out of reading boring bedtime stories for kids by replacing the text with USA Today news stories. The magic part is quite analog — kids are tricked into thinking you’re reading them children’s books because you read it in your “storytime voice,” Fountain said in a sing-songy cadence.
“Children are tiny idiots and we are slaves to them,” he declared. What’s worse, their bedtime stories are “insipid tales of big red dogs and talking bicycles and bunnies that want to be President.” Magic Story Maker, he said, provides bedtime stories that “put them to sleep, but not you.”
The story titles are tailor-made to a child’s predictable taste: “Princess Awesome saves the day.” “Marty Moonboots.” “Where’s that pig?” and “Jungle Jimmy.”
You choose the news article that interests you, read it in your story voice, and absorb your daily news while your kids fall asleep. “Every bedtime is a battle and they are winning,” Fountain says. Magic Story Maker is “a new weapon in the war against children.” It is a Go the Fuck to Sleep for newshounds.
Most hackers aren’t brimming with charm and humor, which is probably why Fountain is such a favorite at New York Tech Meetups. Unlike Couch Cachet, which was built at a Foursquare hackathon, Magic Story Maker, might actually be making him some money. It costs $1.99.