The Brewery: Universal @s

September 29th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Scenario: I upload an image to Flickr and want to link a friend to it.
Problem: She exists on Facebook, not Flickr. There’s a chance she’ll see the image on FB and click through and see what I’ve said, but short of me dropping her a link directly, there’s no way for me to ensure that.

In my utopian web world, I could be on any site and tag anyone who exists on a completely unrelated service. Those who have tweets feeding into Buzz and Facebook will know that tagging someone on Twitter means @username will be linked on Buzz, but not Facebook.

Now, I know this isn’t an easy problem to solve. There are issues around consolidating identity, privacy and permission, dataportability, standards, scale…
One of the ideas swirling in my head is to have a repository of some sort. The repository handles the identity part of the equation. So I can go in there and tell it that ‘dekrazee1‘ and ‘Rai Pratibha‘ and ‘Pratibha Rai‘ are the same people. Maybe even allow it access to my social graph so it knows that if a contact is talking about a Rai, it’s me, not the other Rai. When someone tweets @dekrazee1, before the tweet is pushed to Facebook, the repository can tell it that the tag must be changed to Rai Pratibha to put it in the FB context.
Then all other services plug into it and voila! Universal people tagging! No more linearly restricted web! yaaay!
(Yes, I did say it was utopian… :P)

I’ve only spent a couple of hours thinking about this tonight, so haven’t done much research into it. Is anyone else working on something like this? Is it a solvable issue?

The Brewery: Citizen Exchange Immigration

July 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

As we know, I’m trying to get to the US to work and live for a bit. I was well aware that this wouldn’t be easy, mainly because of the painful immigration processes most countries have in place. I remember swearing to myself that I would NEVER emigrate ever again after going through the process to get my Aussie Permanent Residency.

Governments, and some citizens, seem to be dead against immigration these days. It’s largely regarded as a bad thing, with immigrants seen as people running away from a bad existence in their countries of origin, with little money and education, and therefore a drain on the precious space and resources each nation is so hell bent on protecting. Funny, a huge majority of the immigrants I know have emigrated not because of the bad situation in their countries, but because they had the option available.

So here’s something I’ve been thinking about, which I think would make governments take more kindly to immigration and make it easier for people to move around the world. A straight swap of citizens, one of mine for one of yours. I’m naming it after the Prisoner Exchange programs governments seem more than happy to do. If I want to get to Country X to live for however long, someone from Country X gets to take my place in the country I’m leaving. I’m not gonna suggest any criteria for the citizens being exchanged – bureaucracy is ace at coming up with those as it is – but I do believe it solves the ‘drain on resources’, ‘population control’ and ‘brain drain’ arguments usually thrown up in these debates.

Of course, what I’d really like is for all nations to open up their borders and let us, the citizens of planet Earth, roam around freely. (Do we require that migratory birds apply for visas?) But look governments, I’m willing to compromise. Isn’t it time you do too?

The Brewery: Real-time, location-based car/taxi pool app

June 25th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

(That’s the first rule of a startup satisfied – use them buzz words liberally… :P)

So I’ve been travelling to and from the Sydney domestic and international terminals lately. (Side note: Did you know they now add a $3.00 surcharge right off the bat if you take a cab from the airport? Why? I have no idea. It’s not like the cabbies didn’t hang out there before the surcharge….) Anyways, I always travel alone, and usually with minimal luggage. The last time I was waiting in line, it was taking forever. When I got to the taxi bay, one of them giant Toyota Tarago cabs stopped for me. It felt like such a waste, and I was willing to wait and let a family take it, but the queue co-ordinator and taxi driver insisted that I get in. So I did. But before I slid the door shut, there was a moment I almost yelled out to the line ‘Anyone wanna share? I’m headed to Maroubra’. I didn’t. Instead I started fantasising about carrying a cardboard with me next time I travel, holding it up with where I’m headed scribbled on it the next time I’m in a taxi queue. 😛

And that’s basically the idea. A mobile app where we can locate people in our immediate vicinity who want to share transport straight away. Without having to yell and looking like a complete loon. I wouldn’t limit it to taxis – makes sense to extend it to private modes of transport as well. I’d be happy to pick someone up from the airport on my way back from sending someone off.
Thinking the best way to do it would be to integrate it somehow with one of those location services already out there – Foursquare, Gowalla etc – and give people the added pooling option if so required. Having said that, it could be stand alone. You only really need to use it at the moment you need transport.
Also I’d leave the cost splitting options to the parties involved. They’re adults, they can sort it out.
Haven’t thought of monetisation though… I’m sure it’ll come to me if I mull on it, but the main benefits are obvious – save money and possibly time, reduce traffic on the roads, and a potentially positive contribution to the environment.

Whaddya think? Is there anything like it out there already? Would you get into a taxi with a stranger?

Help needed: How would I make a D-I-Y 'social network'?

May 24th, 2010 § 8 comments § permalink

I was looking through the domains I own, and one of them set off a light bulb in me head.

I have and I do recall that at the time I got it, I imagined doing something centred around my family. Looking at it today, I suddenly thought of making a social network for the whole clan. Which could number in the thousands. (Yes, there’s a gazillion Rais out there, and where I come from, there’s a very loose definition of ‘family’.)

Would be nice to have a family tree/connection kinda thing, plus a place to interact, plus public and private spaces. Ideas are still firing in my brain, but this is where I’d start.
Now, I’m not hugely technical, and I can’t think of the tools I could use off-hand which do what I want and are easy to integrate. Plus it’d have to be easy to use for n00bs and g33ks alike.

Any ideas? (And no, Facebook doesn’t count :P)

The Brewery – idea for crowd-sourced weddings

December 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

This post went longer than intended, so feel free to skip through straight to ‘The Idea’.

The Background

An old friend of mine is planning her wedding, and being a 1/4 way across the world, I’ve been forced to stand on the side lines and observe this strange and slightly unnerving process, offering support via twitter replies to her rants.

And then it suddenly hit me that I’d have to get the happy couple a gift. I have no idea what they need/want and they don’t have a registry. I could do the customary thing of giving $$, but I have no idea what the standard/recommended amounts are. (And thus we uncover one of the reasons dek avoids weddings.) A couple of days later, she messaged me asking what she should rent as a bridal car. She had a list of 4, but what she really wanted is the sexy-eyes Audi. Only problem being the Audi option shatters her budget. A one-day rental, which comes with a chauffeur, would set her back close to $1000. That’s just ridiculous, for any budget and any regular sedan.

So then my brain starts churning with alternatives. Why not rent a regular option and get a friend to drive it? Turns out there aren’t that many sexy-eyes for rent in Singapore. What about borrowing a friend’s car? It’s what we used to do back in the day – anyone with a car attending a wedding would get roped into the wedding procession. 😛 For now, I couldn’t think of anyone, but I could put the word out. In the end, I did find an A6 for abt $300 a day. Problem solved if it’s available!

wedding planners

The Idea

But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the two issues. On the one hand, we have a couple trying to string together an event with (potentially) limited resources. Seems any item or service earmarked for weddings is more expensive than something similar for a ‘regular’ purpose. On the other hand, you have people like me, who want to contribute to the event and/or get the couple a meaningful gift. Many couples I know didn’t set up a gift registry because they already had everything. (Gifts made sense in the past, when the couple would be setting up house after the marriage. The process has mainly reversed these days)

Why not have a registry-type application for the wedding itself? Couple decides to get married, sets a date, sets up a wedding registry thingy. It’ll have listings for all the things they need for the event, and this could be in the form of a service or monetary contributions. So they could list ‘Make us a wedding cake!’ and a baker friend could sign up for that job. Need a dj, a band, a driver? List it! Or, from the example above, they could list the bridal car rental, how much it costs, how much they can/will cover, and open up slots for friends to pitch in with money. My gift for them – resolved without hassle! Wheeee!

I’m thinking a service like this certainly wouldn’t be for everyone. Some people will want to get the professionals involved. It would be for someone like my friend or me (not that I plan to get married. Ever.), who want something simple or low-key or are working with a tight budget. The biggest attraction for me though is the gotong-royong side of it – that was the way when I was a kid. This system I’m suggesting brings the social back into weddings. Helps the couple out, stops the bride from having a breakdown (;P), and lets family and friends get involved in the proceedings.

So, people with wedding experience, would you go for something like this? What are the potential drawbacks of a crowd-sourced wedding?

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