A time sensitive address book app for iOS Devices

"I had thought that the magic of the information age was that it allowed us to know more, but then I realized the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less. It provides us with external cognitive servants — silicon memory systems, collaborative online filters, consumer preference algorithms and networked knowledge. We can burden these servants and liberate ourselves."

- David Brooks, "The Outsourced Brain", The New York Times, 10/6/07 


ContactRot is an art project and live iOS address book application intended to emphasize our increasing reliance on cloud storage for things like phone numbers, friends, etc… We rely on the cloud so much that without this memory failsafe we begin to forget things. Ultimately these forms of storage act as artifical memory for our brains, replacing what we used to keep there. When these items begin to disappear, we ultimately lose touch with people to the point of being forced to contact them in other ways (e.g., real life) to get the data back.

ContractRot examines how digital devices are replacing our ability to retain memories such as individual's names and phone numbers with our increased reliance on cloud storage.


ContactRot is an alternative address book app for iOS that ranks how much attention you are giving those in your contact list. Every name added to the address book comes with a pre-specified timer. Each contact's retention in the address book is based on how often you make contact with the person, such
as call them or email them.

If someone is getting less attention than another person, i.e. if you fail to contact them enough, that person’s details slowly decay (their icon begins to fade, their name and contact details begin to deteriorate) and they are removed from the address book, and ultimately your device. Users can choose between two modes of memory retention: "Hard" meaning names and numbers disappear sooner or "Easy" where they have a longer period of time before names and numbers start decaying

ContactRot is an iOS address book that only retains contacts if they stay relevant to your life by your initiating contact with them..


1.  ContactRot is a native iOS app that uses a copy of your actual iPhone contact list.  

2. Each contact's name begins to deteriorate away after a month of use to eventual deletion, based on how often they are contacted or they contact you.

3. After a month of use, each contact's icons on left side of screen begins to fade away in conjunction with the names and numbers. 

4. The App contains a "Hard Mode" where it will only show people contacted with in the past two weeks, and an "Easy Mode" where it will show people contact with in the past 6 months.

Disclaimer: ContactRot does not store or distribute any personal information. All data is contained in the app itself and is never released or distributed to third parties.



Created by Jonah Brucker-Cohen
Twitter: coinop29

Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Ph.D., is an award winning researcher, artist, and writer. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Lehman College / CUNY in the Bronx. He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department of Trinity College Dublin. His work focuses on the theme of “Deconstructing Networks” and includes over 100 creative projects that critically challenge and subvert accepted perceptions of network interaction and experience. His artwork has been exhibited and showcased at venues such as SFMOMA, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Art, MOMA, ICA London, Whitney Museum of American Art, Palais du Tokyo, Tate Modern, Ars Electronica, Transmediale, and more. His projects “Bumplist” and "America's Got No Talent" sre both included in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. His writing has appeared in publications such as WIRED, Make, Gizmodo, Neural and more. His Scrapyard Challenge workshops have been held in over 15 countries in Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and Australia since 2003.

Developed by Andrew Dempsey