We need a Miss Manners 2.0 to provide digital decorum guidelines
This idea has been in the hopper for some time, and it looks like the NYTimes has beaten me to the topic today.
Not only do people not know how long is an acceptable wait for returning an email or sms, a large number of people still don’t know an better than to send lewd pictures of themselves to the wrong people or litter facebook with bombastic political rants.
We need a publication (ideally a wiki of sorts) to codify - in constantly evolving fashion - proper behavior for interacting with one another in person and online in the 21st century.
How much time can you legitimately spend looking at or typing into your mobile device while in a meeting or at dinner with one, two or more people? How can one gracefully weigh in on an online message board? What is and is not a legitimate first message on OKCupid?
I aspire to be courteous as well as connected, but those two interests seem further and further apart with each app and iOS update. Can someone please help everyone be just a little bit better about drawing the line between acceptable and egregious behavior? We will all be grateful!
Bitcoins reach $1-billion in total value. Is this the start of a sea change in our global economy or an anomaly soon to be subsumed or squashed by the fiscal powers that be?
We need a crowdsourced Groupon
The Problem: Shopping is a pain. It is a hassle to find a good product at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, bad transactions happen more frequently than most of us prefer. As a result, savvy shoppers sift for diamonds* through a rough of outlets, coupons, websites, and daily-deal emails.
Because sellers initiate pricing without negotiation, consumers must hope and wait for the perfect product at a suitable price. Rather than paying too much or buying another Groupon that will go unused, don’t you wish you could set price notifications for any merchandise just like you can for airplane tickets.
The Product: Starting by crawling online merchants, this website could track prices and deliver alerts to members. Like crowdbuy.com or this chrome plugin, the proposed site would also allow members to input pricing data and look at product analytics, such as max, min, mean, and mode demand prices.
In essence, this site and its membership aspires to be a “reverse groupon” whereby consumers assemble online in search of the best deals. Bypassing the middle-man would afford much more transparency and insight into consumer demand, more product variety, and no more 50% revenue sharing requirements for businesses. The goal of this site is not to maximize profit for a corporation but to create value for the mutual benefit of its members. With an internet-scale network, this anonymous consumer data might even put upward pricing pressure on merchants looking to unload overstock to a targeted group of eager buyers.
The Model: Groupon’s greatest asset was its network - rather, its networks. The first: a mailing list of eager buyers has obvious clue, but the other network also scaled to a $10 billion valuation (n.b. with barely any profit). Specifically, Groupon’s growth required constant hiring of salespeople, coders, business developers, managers, and executives at a cost always beyond last quarter’s revenue.
It’s a shame that billion dollar IPOs prevent companies without a hope for longterm profitability from instead forming non-profit, crowd-sourced, online communities on the scale of Wikipedia.
Assembling for the mutual benefit of its members, this crowd-up would be a consumer cooperative rather than provide boat payments for VCs or CEOs. Owned by its members alone rather than founders or stock-holders, it would function like any credit union or insurance co-op (see the success of State Farm Insurance) but with the added organizational leverage of the Internet.
By crowdsourcing the tedious task of tracking prices, the rest of us can benefit from more efficient markets, cheaper goods, and more free time.
*substitute your particular consumer vice: shoes, electronics, sweaters, hardware, etc..
Apparently Tobin had the idea 40 years ago. #GreatMinds.
Why have a pen pal when you could be an SMSpal?
The situation: Did you ever have a pen pal? They’re fun! It’s exciting to get letters from another part of the world, and pen pals can help you get better at foreign languages and make friends with people from different cultures. But snail mail is wicked slow, and few of us have the patience to deal with the old-fashioned ritual of waiting by the mailbox for a letter from Japan.
The solution: But what if you could text your pen-pal instead of buying stamps? Studies show that teenages exchange an average of over 80 texts a day (according to a 2009 survey) and that number is only growing in the developing world. Worldwide SMS usage has gone up from 58% in 2010 to 83% in 2011, indicating that text messaging is one of the primary ways people communicate all over the world. So why don’t we have SMS pals instead of pen pals? This would be a great way to continue the pen pal tradition while updating it for the modern world.
The tech: SMSpal would be relatively simple to build a website for pairing people around the world and routing messages to pairs (or even small groups of SMSpals), using Twillio and other open source technology, such as ClassTalk.org. With a single number for both phones to text, nobody would have to exchange phone numbers and the website could account for all communication to police improper communication. Unlike services like the lascivious Chatroullette, this safe service would be primarily for a K-12 audience looking to connect with someone in a foreign culture.
The competition: There are already a few websites that offer to set up penpals (like penpal.pl or penpalworld.com) but these are focused on the internet and email as a the medium, not the cell phone. SMSPal would take the internet out of the equation with all communication going directly to users’ phones.
SMSPal would create a very low barrier to communicating with someone you already know, and help kids learn about a foreign culture in the process. This is a great way to learn a foreign language outside the classroom, from a real-live peer who could teach far beyond any textbook.
We need an open source educational clicker tool.
Educators have long acknowledged that clickers are a fantastic academic tools. They both engage students through a game-like approach (because participation becomes competitive and therefore more fun) and provide a mechanism for instantaneous assessment across a large student population. Clickers also reduce shyness and fear of failure while simultaneously keeping students awake and engaged. Research in the 2007 Educause Quarterly proves that clickers are an active learning tool that creates positive educational outcomes.
But clickers can be expensive. And most schools - particularly K-12 - are already struggling to provide basic supplies and resources. Because most classrooms can’t afford to spend money on interactive learning tools, the students and teachers that could benefit most are left out of this engaging educational activity. In response, we need a mobile application that allows students and teachers to use clicker technology without purchasing expensive proprietary hardware.
One cool company, Socrative founded by the Harvard Ed School grads, allows students to participate in virtual learning spaces live in class through smartphones and laptops with polls, games, and exercises. While their technology is fantastic, it still requires a laptop or smartphone. Meanwhile, a cool open source project from the folks at Code for America, called ClassTalk, affords simple messaging and polling via text messaging.
Because most every student in America has an SMS-capable cell phone, the ClassTalk code could be modified to replicate all of the necessary features of clickers. Best of all, the code would all be open source so ed tech enthusiasts could modify and improve the software for the benefit of everyone.
This Open Source Clicker technology would be useful within and without the classroom. Beyond education, this technology could be used to organize and solicit feedback during political rallies, concerts, or gatherings. It could even enable crowd-sourced deals like Groupon based on the real-time mood of subscribers!
Without ado, let’s harness the new group-messaging movement for educational purposes and the good of society at large.
Looks like someone at Google reads PleaseStealThisIdea. It may be a while, but these little buggers are going to become reality someday in the not-too-distant future.
Someone should build a peer-to-peer consulting layer on top of Quora and LinkedIn (cont.)
Call to action: It is time for someone to build a peer-to-peer consulting layer on top of the networks of Quora and LinkedIn. As freely shared content drives demand for paid consulting, individuals will be encouraged to create and curate more and more valuable knowledge in order to increase demand for their paid services. I predict this reciprocal relationship between free sharing and paid consulting will catalyze a virtuous cycle and create a veritable Marketplace of Ideas.* In fact, this relationship between free contributions and paid consulting is already happening - most obviously in the free and open source software community where quality code drives the reputation (and hourly rates) of those altruistic contributors.
The future of knowledge: In a world where everyone has something to teach and something to learn, we can all be nodes in an enormous information network. If knowledge can be digitized, it will likely be free. Specific and personalized expert advice, however cannot be free. Therefore, the time associated with personal consulting will likely carry a significant cost (largely depending on the reputation of the source). As we increasingly value the generative capacity of the human beings, it is only a matter of time before a true Marketplace of Ideas emerges to capitalize on personalized expert services promoted by the sharing of free content.
* Although Oliver Wendell Holmes coined the term “Marketplace of Ideas” in reference to free expression and public discourse, the internet has demonstrated time and again the capacity to make the once ephemeral ever so real - as well as profitable.
Source: Andrew Magliozzi
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Someone should build a peer-to-peer consulting layer on top of Quora and LinkedIn
The current situation: Online marketplaces for goods and services are popular and profitable, but we do not yet have a single marketplace for the free exchange of ideas for money, fame, or other ideas.
Current solutions: Sites like Quora allow users to contribute meaningful knowledge in exchange for intellectual reputation. Likewise, companies like the Gerson Lehrman Group sell access to expert consulting networks.