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Monday, March 13, 2006

The Gmail Memory Chain Game

This chapter didn’t quite make it into the (upcoming) book, 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Why? Because during alpha-testing it with friends there were some mixed results (the game’s level of difficulty is hard to adjust). Anyway, I’m publishing it here and I’m curious for more more feedback on “playability”!


“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gmail Memory Chain Game is ideally played with Gmail (because it shows emails of the same conversation in a single view) but theoretically, can be played with any kind of email program. The rules of the Memory Chain game are quickly understood, but the results can be quite baffling – and funny! Start out by copying a small story, poem, or any kind of text from the web or elsewhere into an email (make sure the text is not known to most people, e.g. you can choose a fresh Google News entertainment snippet). Now think of 3 friends of yours who have email and put them in any order, and include yourself at the end of the list. Like this:

The first email you will send out goes to the first in the list; here, this is John. Now this person gets 1 minute to read and memorize your text, then delete it, and recreate it from memory as best as possible without glancing at the original email. Then, the email with only the rules and the new recreated text is sent to the next person in line... who will do the same, then send it to the next person, who will do the same and finally send the email back to you. Now you as chain creator will take the original story of yours as well as the last story by the third person and copy both of them into a new email (in that order), and send the email back to all 3 of your friends to hopefully make for a good surprise or laughter for everyone!

The Text of the Rules to Pass On (Copy This)

Hi John,

You are invited to play a game of Memory Chain! Simply read through the following text for 1 minute trying to memorize it as best as you can, then delete it, and recreate it from memory as best as you can with as many details as possible. Finally, pass it on to the next person in the chain! The chain is: 1. John (, 2. Mary (, 3. Francis Peterson (, 4. Frank ( The text is:

The Rolling Stones won’t be starting up Super Bowl XL, but they will play the halftime show. The rock ’n’ roll greats will go on stage during the game Feb. 5 at Ford Field, the NFL said Tuesday. “We are thrilled to perform for millions of fans at one of the most exciting and highly anticipated sporting events of the year,” the band, which earlier in the day announced its European tour dates, said in a statement. The NFL has a history of getting top acts for its halftime show. Last season, the primary entertainer was former Beatle Paul McCartney. That followed Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in the 2004 game during a performance with Justin Timberlake.

Good luck,


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