'Spit Parties:' Social Networking Gattaca-Style

Spit parties will soon be all the rage among upscale New Yorkers, according to genetic testing firm 23andMe.

Here's how it works: At the party, you are presented with a small vial with an attached funnel. While salivating over party hors d'oeuvres, you gracefully expectorate a small volume of genetic material into the small vial. This material is then submitted to the testing company, which, for just $399, performs a DNA analysis. A month or so later, you receive the results.


(Spit Party just getting started)

You might be surprised at the variety of information available. 23andMe claims to provide information about more than 80 diseases, conditions and traits that might describe you. In addition, information about your genetic heritage, including the continental origins of your line, utilizing the latest research. The company claims to fund the genotyping of more than 50 ethnic groups worldwide to make sure that a diverse population is used for comparison.

Even better, customers are encouraged to share their results via their online datasheets. Your data is rigorously protected with encryption and regular security audits, which should help a lot after you've shared it with Paris, Britney's mom and the rest of your friends.


(Spit Party data presentation)

It's too bad that this information can't be made available quicker, like maybe the very night of the party. If somebody can come up with immediate automated DNA typing, that might be possible.

The ability of companies to perform checks of your DNA that give details on possible medical conditions and other traits you have, along with your ancestry, combined with the encouraged social setting, is uncomfortably close to the milieu from the movie Gattica.


(Gattaca: Can the imperfect mix socially with the perfect?)

In the film, social strata and work relationships are strictly organized along genetic lines; the people whose DNA is found to be "perfect" are discouraged from socializing with people whose DNA doesn't measure up.

Once hooked on genetic insight into yourself and your friends, you might want to subscribe to their classy blog the Spittoon for the latest information.

From 23andMe.com via NYTimes. Thanks also to Moira for submitting her material on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/17/2008)

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