Available in Google around 2001 includes several articles I was interviewed for while playing "spokesperson" for the Attrition.org Web site and its Web Defacement Mirror project. You can also more easily find than today my first foray into Usenet politics in my attempts to get the comp.lang.vrml groups setup and W3C Mailing List archives of my participation in various W3C Web Accessibility Initiatives.
Also lurking about is my involvement in the Web Standards community including the Web Standards Project but even more interesting, some of my earliest posts on email listserves such as my first big commercial Web project - the NoHo Performing Artists Network (NoPAN)- for which I was compensated with free food and shows at the Iron Horse Music Hall.
I posted something about this over on Ask.Mefi but I had absolutely no takers - I was pretty surprised.
I was playing around with one of my social network accounts, (believe it or not I can't remember which at this point), and noticed I could "import" contacts and see who from my contact list was already a member. I could also "export" existing friends as a CSV file. So, I went around to all my old accounts - LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, etc. and downloaded the contacts into my address aggregator of choice, culled duplicates and exported to a CSV.
Then I went around to all the social networks I had accounts on to try and import said addresses and see who already had an account. Facebook worked, was able to add a few more contacts to LinkedIn and even the newer Trusted Opinion. MySpace's is not working and I got a note back from their Tech Support stating such.
I made a huge gaff with YouTube. It said "import your contact list" so I did - thinking that it would THEN let me choose to send invites or, hopefully, show who I already knew that had accounts. Well, it auto-invited all 500+ contacts without giving me any sort of second step. Awful!
I've been pretty tired after work this week so I may have missed it but I've been surprised that there isn't a way to do this with Friendster, Flickr and even LiveJournal. I'd like to see more integrated features like this in Amazon, Last.fm and TV.com as well. It would be cool to allow additional sites like MetaFilter and IMDB to do this but they don't really have a "friend" setup. I was also very surprised to see that PeopleAggregator didn't let me do this - Marc Canter, what's up?!?
All this came about when I started using Twitter this week. Many of you know I'm the first to signup on nearly any Social Network just to see if they've hit that magic combination. Well, magic for me anyway. I have been bummed that to add any more friends to Twitter that I'd have to manually go through every email address and see who of my friends had an account. Dodgeball is another phone-based social service I'd have to do this with.
Here's the magic combo -
1. Allow people to choose to be publicly findable or not
2. Allow people to import their contact list from Plaxo, Yahoo! CSV, Outlook CSV, GMail, Hotmail etc to see who from their list ALREADYhas an account on said social network.
3. In addition to checking names and email addresses, based on the privacy settings of that user, check phone numbers (especially for mobile SNs like Twitter and Dodgeball), Web site URLs and IM nicknames.
4. Allow that person to then choose whether they want to invite friends NOT already on the network.
5. Offer to "alert" the user anytime someone matching their contact info shows up on that network.
6. Allow people to export their contacts in various CSV formats.
7. While I'm at it, allow me to take IM nicknames people have and auto-add them to my own YIM, AIM, GTalk, LJTalk, Skype, MSN, Jabber and ICQ accounts.
Here's what Social Networks are STILL missing IMNSHO:
1. Ability to choose a category to put your contact in. Flickr has very basic categories like Friends and Family. Orkut goes a little further and probably has most of the relationships in the RDF relationship schema. Facebook has a strange but somewhat standard set, as does PeopleAggregator.
2. What about allowing people to create their own groups ala LiveJournal and Orkut and then control which groups/types get to see what? Relationships + Trust.
Add a little encryption to ensure the trust is truly there and people wouldn't be so hesitant to join social networks. People would put much more of their info online if they knew they could control and define who got to see what.
That is the pipe dream...but first just allow me to see who that I know is already a part of these networks. Then we can begin to build our networks much faster.
I've been thinking further about it, even expanding it pretty largely. I see a few applications:
- Live Transit Data - since I've been riding the MBTA Commuter Rail on a regular basis, I've noticed the train is predictibly late; especially the 7:29am Newburyport/Rockport line into North Station. So why not create a service that allows various commuters to text/SMS/IM/email in, (or use a mobile web-based inteface), when they arrive at a station and when they leave a station?
Several things could be done with that data. Update a Google Map live with a train's location. At the "estimated" live location point, have a small icon with the train's number, (in the case of the Inbound 7:29am train from Salem, 108) and show a train with timed waypoints.
I gave it a shot with my horrible, second-hand, beaten-up Verizon Wireless LG phone and sent myself emails everytime we arrived at a stop. My thumb was sore from lack of experience and it would have helped more if I was able to send something both when we arrived & left but it was a small experiment proving that this is a feasible idea.
Keep a history of all these times for referring back to and even mark them up with XML so one can reference a particular date, time, and period between stations. Also, include a means of reporting accidents such as the one in Franklin this week or other such delays with various categories. Users could also leave messages forum-style on a particular trip in commenting on the train's lateness, demeanor of the conductors, report incidents and request witnesses, post a lost or found....etc
In addition to the "contribute" side, also allow users to sign up their phone or an email address at which to be notified for a particular train, line etc. Create a series of quick SMS codes allowing ad hoc queries as well as a profile on the Web site at which to set defaults.
This solves a myriad of issues including "where the hell is the train" instead of waiting 15-20 minutes after an incident for it to show up on the MBTA marquee. It also could be used similar to plane tracking to allow spouses, significant others, and friends to know when to ACTUALLY leave for the station to pick you up.
<sarcasm>And oooh - look! There's Google Transit on which data can be displayed and integrated!</sarcasm%gt;
- Social Networking - My train ride really isn't that long but it would be nice to be able to know who of my neighbors and friends along the entire Newburyport / Rockport line is taking the same train I am. Allow contributors and participants to state what train they are on, which car they are in and approx. which seat. Information can be set to "friends only" or based on some other trust relationship to allow for privacy.
Determining train car numbers for such a short period of time may be difficult but I'd venture to guess that they don't change them at all during the day and if one can determine the pattern of which engine/car setup ends up with which train (i.e. my 7:29am 108 train). This would be helpful when arriving at North Station, (South Station etc). I see the 5:55pm/069 train on the board with no track number. However if I know the engine/car numbers for the day, I can simply look at the last car. This could be risky as sometimes the train master may arbitrarily choose trains based on their availability. I think the avid users of Railroad.netcould make a big contribution here.
This degree of awareness could allow for localized IMing, ad hoc peer-to-peer laptop-based wireless networks and all sorts of experiments in mobile computing. I already see tons of people on their Blackberries, laptops and other devices working away. Why not enhance their value when commuting?
I forsee a function of my Tivo being a "trusted friend" on my Commutning network so it will always know what train I am on and popup a window allowing any viewers to know when my train reaches the stop before Salem....or something.
As always, I fully admit my ideas are to the extreme of technology implementation and usage but while I strive to be an innovative fururist I am always seeking ways to maximize what little time I have. The more educated with contextualized data I am, the more in control I feel - much more conducive to getting things done.
Please - all comments welcome.
A result of my last few posts, I'm going to start posting "idea roundups" on a regular basis. I can save them in draft form and when I'm done for a bit, I will publish them. This is more about me keeping track of my thoughts and brainstorms rather than additional content to readers.
- The ideas on this page are not complete. I wanted to write them down so I could keep track of them and eventually expand them into my full brainstream. See this post as an example.
- I am fully aware that, in some cases, major parts of my ideas will already exist. I am not claiming to be the first to come up with these ideas and in my expanded version, will most likely reference pre-existing efforts.
- Anyone can take my idea and run with it. I am big on thought but lacking follow-through. All I ask is that you credit me as per my Creative Commons license and, if possible, invite me to participate or at least observe the project.
- Please feel free to post your thoughts and ideas alongside mine. I really encourage you all to join in - it's a lot of fun!
Idea Roundup #1
- Google Sky - An add-on to Google Earth. It will allow for graphic displays of the weather from the sky if you were looking at the horizon - kind of like when news stations pull you under the clouds to see it actually snowing. It would also contain or allow for airline tracking, visual representation of the jetstream etc. As per a previous post, you could also see stars, constellations and other objects in the night sky.
- Google Mars - As we get more and more data and pictures from the "Red Planet", begin turning them into a full graphical rendering of Mars for Google Earth-like exploration.
- Google Universe/Space - An Add-On of sorts to Google Earth, (or perhaps the eventual parent application), this contains all the stars, constellations, comets, meteor showers, sattelite positions, and renderings of other celestial phenomena. It could contain a link to Google Moon as well as Google Mars.
- Pooper Scooper Attachment - Not a tech application but an actual product. As someone who walks dogs, often when really tired or in inclimate weather with heavy gloves on or holding an umbrella, picking up droppings bites - I usually use a plastic grocery bag and dispose of it. One idea is for an add-on to those retractable leashes - it resembles the lower-half of a pelican beak. The tip is a bit of a shovel and you easily feed in plastic grocery bags to represent the pelican gullet. Then you click the "stop" on the lead, bend over, scoop with the shovel-tip, tilt it back and it goes into the bag. Pull the bag downwards out of the "pelican beak" and it ties itself into a not.
- One-Handed Automatic Pooper Scooper -The second is a bit more complex and futuristic. Somethimes bending over due to an ailing back, old age, or hyper dog is impossible. I see the development of a metal "stick" about 3-5in in length with a button. Press the button and it telescopes downward with a claw of sorts to grab various droppings. You can do this as many times as you want. The waste is pulled inside the tube and deposited into a bag which you can later pull out and throw away. But the key with both scoopers is that it uses or "recycles" plastic bags.
- Small, wireless, battery-powered, ink-jet printers - Being overweight and asthmatic, it's a PITA to go up two flights of stairs to the printer every time I print something. Most of my ideas come out of me being lazy anyway. I can't bring my 1.5ft by 1ft laser printer downstairs - no room. So why not a small, rechargable battery powered ink jet that you can connect a wireless card to....easily mountable on a wall through suction cups, a narrow shelf or some other non-intrusive means. When cheap enough, (way in the future), these could be a feature of several rooms in a home so one can print anywhere one would want.
- RFID Smart Shower/Bath - When we first moved into our house, I thought it was cute that our cat would meow to be fed via water trickled from the bath faucett. What a pain! Now she wants it multiple times a day and spends most of her time yowling for more. It got me thinking about the RFID "smart" cat and dog doors people hacked together in the past. Why not have a small computer that stores various water preferences via RFID and learns from adjustments? For starters, if my cat hops up on the edge, it would trickle a little water. When she finally leaves, it fully shuts off. No human standing there or leaving the water on wasting some until we come back. This could be expanded in the future to humans via biometrics. I walk into the bathroom and run my hand across the shower sensor and it starts it running getting it to a certain temperature and indicating it's ready. A computer can do it a lot faster and more exact than my fat fingers so I'd save water. Plus if I have to adjust the temperature it can learn my eventual optimum preference. Perhaps the shower would be voice-activated at some point and, feeding into the house sensors determine my body temperature, the bedroom temperature and see how hot I make the shower. Then it can know that days with those conditions, an alternate temperature may be a better place to start.
I was just chatting with my brother Nate, (necr03), who heard from one of his pals that the tag/folksonomy master service del.icio.us was scooped up by Yahoo! today. (Of course, he heard via Digg which, while a story itself, is quickly overtaking Slashdot as THE source for tech. exclusives or at least fast news tracking.)
In a conversation with Greg Burd we concluded that Six Apart may be next. Yahoo! may purchase them to compete with Google's acquisition of Blogger and BlogSpot or.....Google may take them to simply augment their "blogging" division and so Yahoo! can't use them to compete.I
could see the same for Technorati - Google is pretty set with their BlogSearch beta and their Google News however Yahoo! is pretty much lacking in the blog-search area. Maybe LinkedIn as well - I see it as one of the more successful Social Network products out there. Any other "Web 2.0" services ripe for acquisition? It's really interesting watching Yahoo! and Google go at it - very reminicent of the DotCom days just without the unproven vapourware.