Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, hosts of Reply All, the internet's favorite podcast about the internet, activated a phone line this morning at 10:15 AM EST. They would like you to call it at any time of the day or night for the next 48 hours. You talk to them about anything you want. Here's the number: (646)-490-1847.
Goldman told The Verge that the experiment is a way of asking "What would happen if we put the internet in control of our lives for 48 hours?" The co-hosts plan on building an episode of Reply All around their favorite moments. The only rule of the experiment is that Goldman and Vogt have to answer every single call, though Goldman says they'll hang up if callers are being abusive: "If people engage us honestly and with interesting questions or ideas then we'll stay on the line and see what happens."
Goldman says in his best-case scenario the bulk of the phone calls will be "short, funny pranks." But Goldman also added that he wants to hear from people who might not have anyone else to talk to, emphasizing that usually when the Reply All hosts are talking with strangers on the phone they're the ones trying to get something out of the conversation: "If you've never heard of the show or don't listen to it, we really want to hear from you. It doesn't matter if you don't know who we are, if you don't care who we are — all the better. We will talk to you."
"our goal is always to see what the weirdest thing we can get away with is."
I asked Goldman if he was at all worried about the experiment, considering the fact that there are many people for whom the scenario of their phone number being available online is an actual recurring nightmare. He said he's nervous only because "Every time I have to make a phone call with someone I haven't spoken to before I get terrible anxiety for like 10 seconds. I feel like I'm going to have a constant stream of anxiety for those two days." But as for the horrors of being doxxed, Goldman says Reply All is cheating a little bit. They'll deactivate the phone setup after two days and people won't be able to reach them anymore. Plus, he adds, "I don't really have to worry about it. I'm inoculated for better or for worse. Being a white guy makes it really easy to navigate being online."
The idea for the experiment came up at a weekly story meeting with Reply All's executive producer Tim Howard, who Goldman says always asks for two normal story ideas and one "bong hit idea." Last summer, the duo spent an entire day recording outdoor sounds in New York City (including a carriage ride, the Cyclone, and breaking into an abandoned buildings) — another of these "bong hit" ideas. "Our goal is always to see what the weirdest thing we can get away with is. This is us continuing to go in that direction," Goldman said.
I asked Goldman if this project was at all inspired by Justin Bieber tweeting his phone number to 88 million followers last year as promotion for his "Hotline Bling" remix and he said he hadn't heard about the incident. He mulled it over though, and then said "I'm wondering if this is a very dumb idea."