Everyone wants to be a Facebook babe. Too bad it's so difficult. The English-Dutch company Vaseline found this out the hard way when they launched "Transform your Face on Facebook" — an online application that allows male users to whiten the colour of their skin in onilne profile pictures.
The page also contains tips on hairstyles to flatter different face shapes and questions over the sex appeal of specs, but bloggers immediately took issue with the skin-whitening concept. Respected columnists called the application ‘racist.' Anonymous online commenters, with a typical mix of charm and restraint, made short work of what was left.
The message of the application — and the hope it encapsulates — is both sad and universal. The problem with the application — if there is one — isn't just the race fantasy. Advertisers of lifestyle products earn their money by creating a world that is tinged with elitism — filled with the hot girls who will never go out with you, or elegant friends who always go places and forget to give you directions. The only way into their world is to buy.
Now that world has collided with Facebook, with major reverberations. Airbrushing has been put into the hands of the masses, and there's no going back. It's only a matter of milliseconds before "Transform your Figure on Facebook" or "Transform your Friends on Facebook" become commercial concepts.
So are there any other applications that shook the world this week? Here are two for sure:
Frog Dissection HD
Dissections may be a staple school-time lesson, but they take a much less messy, virtual form in Frog Dissection HD, an iPad application that simulates the experience of an actual frog dissection.
Frog Dissection HD has been downloaded 500 times since it launched a month ago, according to the designer. The application picked up press last week when it won an award from the animal rights group PETA on the grounds that virtual dissection lesson prevents cruelty to animals.
Right now the application is iPad-only, and goes for $5, but the designers, who are based in Chennai and Delhi, are working on a web version for the Indian market.
As to whether virtual dissection is more humane, Kartik S, marketing manager for maker Emantras, says, "I'm not sure whether this can completely replace the dissection experience."
Ask the Octopus Oracle
The World Cup final brought unexpected fame to Paul the Octopus, an ocean creature with the power to prophesy German performance in soccer tournaments.
Now, owners of iPhones can benefit from cephalopod wisdom, too, thanks to a Brazilian software company. They've invented the iPhone application "Ask the Octopus Oracle," in which a somewhat cock-eyed red octopus chooses between two user-inputted options.