Some ideas

These are some thoughts that I’ve had for products and services that I wished existed. While it’d be nice to get credit and/or a job out of it, I more or less just want people to create these things so that I can use them (or otherwise benefit from their use).

Information services
Information supports democracy and market efficiency, so let’s have more of it (within constraints of reasonable personal privacy), says I. While it seems that the tech boom has left us with a website or smart phone application for everything imaginable, there are a couple sites that I’d still like to see. Basically, the first internet revolution got a ton of information out there, but now we need a second internet revolution to make those into structured and useful data. Like —

  • Recommend jobs (based on revealed preferences and other criteria, such as ESG performance)
  • Provide a platform for whistleblowers and dissatisfied customers (as the BBB sucks)
  • Inform communities to fight corporate welfare
  • Provide a check on inaccuracies in news journals
  • Find charities in line with personal values and location (rather than funder finder as at the Foundation Center)
  • Create and maintain a system of corporate identifiers that links all the existing proprietary systems, government tax IDs, security IDs, etc.
  • Enterprise social networking — use tweets and blogs and file sharing and groups and walls and chatting whatever other wonderful tools social networks have brought us, but within organizations for better coordination, ideally on one platform (instead of Sharepoint plus Communicator plus Outlook plus …)
  • Use the Millennium Villages model to kick start development of a more sustainable social structure in the US

Problems that need solutions
I also think about things other than websites, including changes in process such as recommended in Nudge and The Design of Everyday Things to help make the world work better. As G.K. Chesterton said: “A man must be orthodox on most things, or he will never have time to practice his own particular heresy.” So design-thinking or choice architecture, whatever term of art you prefer, is necessary to calibrate habits / orthodoxy with social good. [I don’t so much subscribe to the invisible hand of the market theory that equates ignoring problems with solving them.]

I am attracted to ideas in the vein of …

  • Exploring “behavioral solutions” to recycling and energy use [Sorting garbage is only one stage in recycling, and everyone unfortunately has their negative feedback story, of when they saw the recycling being thrown in with all the other waste]
  • Helping people to prioritize life changes that contribute most to sustainability, customized to individuals [as, honestly, I have very little idea what we should do, apart from just consuming less of everything], so it’s not just about pressuring corporations and governments
  • Match science fiction writers with policy wonks who could use help thinking through possible solutions to environmental and social problems (and possible problems caused by those possible solutions)

Games With a Social Goal

I wrote a post about “serious games” that I’d like to see / would make if I were a game designer.


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