You Can Do Better Than 'Sent from My iPhone'

Send us your improvements on the standard mobile device signature.
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sentfrommyiphone.jpg
My gloriously damaged iPhone screen with the magic words on it (Alexis Madrigal).

"Sent from my iPhone"

It began as a humblebrag and an excuse. It meant, "I am using an expensive mobile device to send this email, so please don't judge my spelling errors, lack of punctuation, or clipped sentences."

These signatures, automatically generated, would not have been an auspicious place to look for creativity or wry humor. And yet, it seems like every other day I come across someone who has crafted a little message that says and does a lot more than beg forgiveness and flaunt status.

My sister's always cracks me up: "Sent from a phone. Regularly foiled by autocorrect. But duck it."

I've seen it hundreds of times and I love it each time. (I read it in my sister's voice in my head -- "But duck it." -- and I laugh.)

Our friend Alissa Walker, who advocates for alternative transportation in LA, signs her messages, "Sent from the streets." VentureBeat's Dylan Tweney's just says, "Sent from my brain." My wife's used to say, "Sent from space." A chef, Samin Nosrat: "Sent from my pasta machine." One of our contacts at Microsoft uses, "Sent telepathically." A friend of a friend makes things explicit and ironic simultaneously: "Short and to the point...this email was sent from my mobile device." Another friend of the channel shows as well as tells, "Sent by my idDevices. May be rife with typos or poor judgment."

And it goes on and on.

  • Jokey: "Sent from my telco slingshot"
  • Deadpan: "Sent from Mobile Device"
  • Half-true: "Sent from a telephone
  • Calm: "Sent from the road."
  • Mysterious: "Sent from my illustrated primer."
  • Clever: "Sent from my camera."
  • Retro: "Sent from my steam-powered printing press"
  • Implausible: "Sent from the future."

The fact that one *can* change the signature text means that some people will, and when they do, it becomes a decision for everyone. Doing it says something, and not doing it says something. And once it's a choice, rather than a default, creativity and identity signaling will creep in through that crevice.

And it got me thinking: there should be a Hall of Fame for these lines, a gallery of all the permutations that humans can generate playing off a single line of default text. I'm going to take your submissions here and post a top 10 tomorrow.

Behold the form. It's got three pieces: The line itself, any backstory, and your information. If you *don't* want me to use your name, let me know in the backstory bit. 

P.S. I'll give you a hint on how to find the good ones searching your Gmail: Search exactly this string: "sent from" is:important -phone -ipad -iphone.

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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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