Two Ideas from Nicholas Albery

Sadly, Nicholas Albery was killed in an automobile accident not long after this page was written.

Nicholas Albery of the Global Ideas Bank  recently posted two messages containing ideas of his own on the social technology mailing list .  I think they deserve a wider circulation, and since they are also quite relevant to my own projects I asked for permission to reproduce them here in their entirety.  Later I will add implementation details.

The first concerns matching people with the aid of search engines:

From: [email protected] (Nicholas Albery)
Subject: A few more thoughts re finding partners etc through web
Sender: [email protected]
Reply-To: [email protected]

I've told Douglas Wilson this idea and thought maybe it might interest those on this social technology list. (At the end are some comments primarily for Douglas Wilson.)

Below I imagine a service that would be mainly used initially by students at universities with their own home page on the web, and they could paste a block of code onto the bottom of their home page.

The block of code would be generated in response to a questionnaire which could be made freely available on a number of sites.

Here is my short paper on this:

*Free search for your ideal partner through 60 million web pages*

Nicholas Albery

There needs to be a standard formula that people seeking partners can put at the bottom of their Internet home pages. An Internet search engine such as Alta Vista searches without charge through 60 million web pages around the world in a couple of seconds, and would come up with the best matches available.

This would provide excellent publicity for the search engine, would avoid the expense of joining a marriage or romance bureau, and would be a safe way to meet up, as the web page does not need to give one's home address. In ten years' time, when virtually every young person in the West will have their own home web page, it could also provide a much wider choice of potential partners than any other approach.

How it would work is as follows: the search engine home page on the Internet would have a romance icon one could click on, which would take one to a simple questionnaire asking about one's characteristics and those of one's ideal partner, and with a pull-down menu of possible replies.

'The form when completed would generate a set of letters which one would then copy and paste onto the bottom of one's home page'

The form when completed would generate a set of letters which one would then copy and paste onto the bottom of one's home page.

I am no expert in how to exploit a search engine's potential, but, for instance, the resulting set of letters for a woman seeking a man might be:

+RMC +MML +FFML +LUK +LNDN AGD40 Lngtrm Tll Slm Blnd Grdt Thtr Wlkg

which would be short for:

"I am looking for romance (RMC) with a Male (MML) who seeks a Female (FRML). I live in the UK (LUK), London area (LNDN), aged 40-45 (AGD40), and am looking for a Long-term (Lngtrm) relationship. I am Tall (Tll), Slim (Slm), Blond (Blnd), Graduate (Grdt), with Theatre (Thtr) & Walking (Wlkg) as interests."

The Alta Vista search engine treats the '+' sign as indicating an essential feature - it will list the nearest compatible matches for the others.

Another set of letters would list the potential partner's desired characteristics.

This proposal does not require a search engine's blessing to happen, although it would stand more chances of being taken up if this were so. If someone reading this would like to help design a web suitable questionnaire form, this could be made available for people to try on the Global Ideas Bank's site and elsewhere on the web.

Compatibility smart card

An extension of this proposal for the non-virtual world is to have a smart card, with your characteristics and the characteristics of the kind of person you would like to meet. When someone with a compatible smart card comes within range, a device prods your skin, the number of prods indicating how compatible. And if you were to go to a singles restaurant or bar, the receptionist would insert your card and then direct you to the most compatible person there at present, until someone more compatible arrived.

****

The following are further comments on all this:

I think Douglas Wilson is envisaging tests of one kind or another to help evaluate compatibility. I think many will shy away from this. Could we not rely largely on tests already done by others? Eg, someone could specify that they only wanted to meet fellow professors, or graduates or whatever. Or rely on the indications given by the way life has shaped the person to date, eg through choice of jobs to date, choice of interests.

The system should be as decentralised and self-orgasing as possible such that (a) the questionnaire can appear on many sites throughout the web; (b) it can survive further enhancements in future, for instance, each generation of codes generated from the questions could be indicated as such within the code, and future generations of coding would also create the old less-advanced codes so that the searches would reveal those people still using the less advanced versions on their home pages. Just as simple old html still works alongside frames, java, etc; (c) it can survive and thrive if you and I and our organisations all get run over by a bus.

I think it could increase the divorce rate initially as people dump their incompatible partners. Also in future, it could encourage people to dump their partners whenever a more compatible one appeared on the web.

With every innovation I like to consider its effect on geographical neighbourhoods - the cohesion of which I see as vital to the future. WIll it help to fragment these further, as people look for relationships unbouind by geography, or will it eventually lead to people settling together into areas with other like-minded souls? WIll it lead to more people meeting and forming real relationships or to more virtual, disembodied relationships?

I'm not keen on Douglas Wilson's 'social network optimisation' phrase, I think of it rather as something more long-winded like 'transforming society through matching for compatibility'

-- With best wishes, Nicholas Albery <[email protected]>)
The Institute for Social Inventions Tel +44 [0]181 208 2853
*also* The Natural Death Centre Fax +44 [0]181 452 6434
20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA, UK
ISI/Global Ideas Bank is at http://www.globalideasbank.org
NDC/Funerals info: http://www.globalideasbank.org/naturaldeath.html

The other idea from Nicholas Albery concerns a more conventional use of the web, as a computer bulletin board to help organize real world events such as walks, trips to museums or other social activities.  I am including it here because it seems to me a good idea that could be made better by combining it with the one above.   Note that a revised version of this proposal was sent to me later, and I include that below the original.  It is instructive to compare the two versions.

To: [email protected]
From: [email protected] (Nicholas Albery)
Subject: Bulletin Boards for each city to relieve loneliness
Sender: [email protected]
Reply-To: [email protected]

I am thinking of starting the following free Bulletin Board, to help relieve the loneliness and isolation felt by many city dwellers and those newly arriving in cities - although no doubt the same could work for rural regions too.

Can any of you help me to design it in a way that it will avoid snags and abuse in future? In what ways is it likely to be abused? Are the abuses outweighed by the potential benefits? I would like it to be as self-organising as possible, and to be able to post bulletin boards up for most of the cities of the world, with minimum effort on my part, but as designed at present it seems to require a certain amount of policing to remove postings etc?

Here is my first draft:

LONDON BULLETIN BOARD

London Bulletin Board is a free web page where Londoners can propose events and meetings for others to sign up for. There will soon be similar Bulletin Boards for all the major cities in the world, all reachable via the parent web site, the Global Ideas Bank (www.globalideasbank.org).

For instance, a message on the London Bulletin Board might read:

"I propose we go to see the Truman Show film at the Screen on Baker Street on Wednesday Feb 10th at 7.10pm ane meet afterwards at the Cafe Uno next door to discuss the film. Maximum 8 people, please e-mail me."

Or for instance:

"My favourite book at the moment is Leo Marks' 'Between Silk and Cyanide'. I would like to meet others to discuss this book over a meal at the Indonesian Restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue on Friday Feb 12th at 7.30pm. Maxum 5, please e-mail me."

Or for instance:

"A brainstorming group on the theme of 'How to further develop the Internet as a way for people to find compatible partners and friends' in Neal's Yard Meeting Room, Covent Garden, on Thursday Feb 11th at 7.30pm. Share costs of room (45 pounds). Minimum 10. Maximum 40. Please e-mail me."

The essence of the Bulletin Board is thus to encourage Londoners and visitors to London not just to consume entertainments advertised in media such as Time Out magazine, but to self-organise events where the participants can make a real contribution, feel recognised as unique individuals and perhaps form friendships with others who share their interests.

The headings on the Bulletin Board resemble those in Time Out - FIlms, Opera, Theatre, Books, Sport and so on - but the content's emphasis differs. This bulletin board is for people who want, for a change, to be active not passive, to make films or to discuss films, not just to watch them; to write books, to share writing in progress with others, or to discuss books, not just to read them. Not to watch someone play a sport but to organise a neighbourhood football team or a walking group. Not a board for restaurant reviews, but more a board to advertise, say, a pot-luck picni in Hyde Park on Sundays.

Under 'Miscellaneous', people can add their own headings, and under any of the headings, people can start their own threads.

There are restrictions:

(1) No passive consumer events.

(2) No commercial events (although cost-sharing is allowed).

(3) No commercial organisations.

(4) All meetings to be held in public places, for the safety of the participants.

(5) All participation in activities advertised on the bulletin board to be at the participant's own risk.

(6) No illegal activities are to be proposed.

(7) All events are to be for a minimum number of 3 people.

(8) No addresses or telephone numbers or names of meeting proposers are to be published, only e-mail details, although proposers may identify themselves by age, sex and interests if they wish.

(9) No posting to be of more than 200 words.

-- With best wishes, Nicholas Albery <[email protected]>)
The Institute for Social Inventions Tel +44 [0]181 208 2853
*also* The Natural Death Centre Fax +44 [0]181 452 6434
20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA, UK
ISI/Global Ideas Bank is at http://www.globalideasbank.org
NDC/Funerals info: http://www.globalideasbank.org/naturaldeath.html

That's pretty good for a first draft, but rather than leaving it there Nicholas sent me a revised version, which I am including below.

To: "Douglas P. Wilson"
From: [email protected] (Nicholas Albery)
Subject: London Bulletin Board, draft 2

MODIFIED VERSION FOLLOWS:

LONDON BULLETIN BOARD

London Bulletin Board is a free web page where Londoners can propose participatory events and meetings for others to sign up for. There will soon be similar Bulletin Boards for all the major cities in the world, all reachable via the parent web site, the Global Ideas Bank (www.globalideasbank.org).

For instance, a message on the London Bulletin Board might read:

"I propose we go to see the Truman Show film at the Screen on Baker Street on Wednesday March 10th at 7.10pm and meet afterwards at the Cafe Uno next door to discuss the film. Maximum 8 people, please e-mail me (Nicholas, Male, 50; major interest: country walks; favourite film: '1900', favourite book: 'March of the Machines' by Kevin Warwick)."

Or for instance:

"My favourite book at the moment is Leo Marks' 'Between Silk and Cyanide'. I would like to meet others to discuss this book over a meal at the Indonesian Restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue on Friday March 12th at 7.30pm. Maximum 5, please e-mail me (Amelia, Female, 37; major interest: psychotherapy; favourite film: 'Schindler's List; favourite book: as above)."

Or for instance:

"A brainstorming group on the theme of 'How to further develop the Internet as a way for people to find compatible partners and friends' in Neal's Yard Meeting Room, Covent Garden, on Thursday March 11th at 7.30pm. Share costs of room (45 pounds). Minimum 10. Maximum 40. Please e-mail me (David, Male, 30; major interest: networking; favourite film: 'Cyrano de Bergerac'; favourite book: 'Consider Phlebas' by Iain M. Banks)."

Individuals with free events (or where costs are shared) can post a message for free. Participatory events which charge or that are run by commercial organisations must pay for an advertisement. For instance:

"AD: Therapy weekend workshop on the theme of 'Developing self-esteem', 11.30am Saturday March 13th to 6pm Sunday March 14th, in London NW6, run by Saskia Thompson, member of United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy. 40 pounds. Tel 0171 200 0000, e-mail [email protected]"

The essence of the Bulletin Board is thus to encourage Londoners and visitors to London not just to consume entertainments advertised in media such as Time Out magazine, but to self-organise events where the participants can make a real contribution, feel recognised as unique individuals and perhaps form friendships with others who share their interests.

The headings on the Bulletin Board resemble those in Time Out - Art, Films, Opera, Theatre, Books, Sport and so on - but the content's emphasis differs. This bulletin board is for people who want, for a change, to be active not passive, to make films or to discuss films, not just to watch them; to write books, to share writing in progress with others, or to discuss books, not just to read them. Not to watch someone play a sport but to organise a neighbourhood football team or a walking group. Not a board for restaurant reviews, but more a board to advertise, say, a pot-luck picnic in Hyde Park on Sundays.

Under 'Miscellaneous', people can add their own headings, and under any of the headings, people can start their own threads.

There are restrictions:

(1) Genuinely participatory events only. No passive consumer events involving eg just seeing a film or hearing a talk.

(2) All meetings to be held in public places, for the safety of the participants.

(3) All participation in activities advertised on the bulletin board to be at the participant's own risk and participants are advised to check to their satisfaction the probity of any event organisers and the safety of the arrangements, and to inform a friend by e-mail of where exactly they are going and when they are due back, and to e-mail this friend a confirmation of safe return. Please report to [email protected] any message you feel needs alteration or deletion.

(4) No sexual or illegal activities are to be proposed and no racist or unkind material is to be posted.

(5) A posting in poor taste may be deleted without notice.

(6) All events are to be for a minimum number of three people.

(7) Unless an organisation is running the event, no addresses or telephone numbers or names of meeting proposers are to be published, only e-mail details, although, to help the reader visualise who is proposing an event, proposers are expected to describe themselves by age, sex, a current major interest, a current favourite film and a current favourite book.

(8) No posting to be of more than 60 words (excluding name, e-mail and other such details).

(9) All events to be free (or sharing costs equally) and run by non-commercial organisations. Events that charge more than just a division of the costs between participants or that are run by commercial organisations can feature on this board only as advertisements (for up to one month or until the event advertised occurs, whichever is sooner) and only if they are participatory events as described above. Advertisements, with a maximum of 60 words including contact details, cost 10 pounds by credit card, with card number, expiry date and registered name and address of card-holder notified by e-mail to [email protected] or by telephone to the Institute for Social Inventions on 0181 208 2853. Any profit from this bulletin board will go to the educational charity the Institute for Social Inventions and its projects (which include the Natural Death Centre and ApprenticeMaster Alliance).

-- With best wishes, Nicholas Albery <[email protected]>)
The Institute for Social Inventions Tel +44 [0]181 208 2853
*also* The Natural Death Centre Fax +44 [0]181 452 6434
20 Heber Road, London NW2 6AA, UK
ISI/Global Ideas Bank is at http://www.globalideasbank.org
NDC/Funerals info: http://www.globalideasbank.org/naturaldeath.html


Non-quoted text is Copyright © 1999 Douglas P. Wilson    



Copyright © 2009   Douglas Pardoe Wilson

Other relevant content:

New: Social Technology through Diagrams

New: Social Techs novel online

New: Social Technology Blog

New: Social Technology Wiki

Please see these web pages:

The main Social Technology page.

Find Compatibles , the key page, with the real solution to all other problems explained

Technological Fantasies , a page about future technology

Social Tech a page about Social Technology, technology for social purposes.  I think I was the first person to use this phrase on the Internet, quite a long time ago.


Roughly corresponding to these web pages are the following blogs :

Social Technology the main blog, hosted on this site, with posts imported from the following blogger.com blogs, which still exist and are useable.

Find Compatibles devoted to matching people with friends, lovers, jobs, places to live and so on, but doing so in ways that will actually work, using good math, good algorithms, good analysis.

Technological Fantasies devoted to future stuff, new ideas, things that might be invented or might happen, such as what is listed above and below.

Sex-Politics-Religion is a blog about these important topics, which I have been told should never be mentioned in polite conversation.  Alright that advice does seem a bit dated, but many people are still told not to bring up these subjects around the dinner table.

I believe I was the first person on the Internet to use the phrase Social Technology -- years before the Web existed.

Those were the good old days, when the number of people using the net exceeed the amount of content on it, so that it was easy to start a discussion about such an upopular topic.  Now things are different.  There are so many web pages that the chances of anyone finding this page are low, even with good search engines like Google.   Oh, well.

By Social Technology I mean the technology for organizing and maintaining human society.  The example I had most firmly in mind is the subject of  Find Compatibles , what I consider to be the key page, the one with the real solution to all other problems explained.

As I explained on my early mailing lists and later webpages, I find that social technology has hardly improved at all over the years.   We still use representative democracy, exactly the same as it was used in the 18th century.  By contrast, horse and buggy transporation has been replaced by automobiles and airplanes, enormous changes.

In the picture below you will see some 18th century technology, such as the ox-plow in the middle of the picture.  How things have changed since then in agricultural technology.  But we still use chance encounters, engagements and marriages to organize our home life and the raising of children.  

I claim that great advances in social technology are not only possible but inevitable.  I have written three novels about this, one preposterously long, 5000 pages, another merely very very long, 1500 pages.  The third is short enough at 340 pages to be published some day.  Maybe.  The topic is still not interesting to most people.   I will excerpt small parts of these novels on the web sometime, maybe even post the raw text for the larger two.


This site includes many pages dating from 1997 to 2008 which are quite out of date.  They are included here partly to show the development of these ideas and partly to cover things the newer pages do not.  There will be broken links where these pages referenced external sites.  I've tried to fix up or maiintain all internal links, but some will probably have been missed.   One may wish to look at an earlier version of this page , rather longer, and at an overview of most parts of what can be called a bigger project.

Type in this address to e-mail me.  The image is interesting.  See Status of Social Technology

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, Douglas Pardoe Wilson

I have used a series of e-mail address over the years, each of which eventually became out of date because of a change of Internet services or became almost useless because of spam.  Eventually I stuck with a Yahoo address, but my inbox still fills up with spam and their spam filter still removes messages I wanted to see.  So I have switched to a new e-mail service.  Web spiders should not be able to find it, since it is hidden in a jpeg picture.   I have also made it difficult to reach me.  The picture is not a clickable link.  To send me e-mail you must want to do so badly enough to type this address in.  That is a nuisance, for which I do apologize, but I just don't want a lot of mail from people who do not care about what I have to say.


Cross-References:

Doug Wilson's Home Page

Global Ideas Bank

Another Old Index Page

What's New?


Copyright © 2009   Douglas Pardoe Wilson