Project Ideas

Explain it to me

posted Oct 19, 2008, 6:19 PM by Devin Barham   [ updated Oct 19, 2008, 6:30 PM ]

I always have trouble explaining nerdy things. An example is when people ask me to explain some theoretical physics book I'm reading, or why the front brake of a bicycle is has the most stopping power. It's usually not that easy to compress a complex idea into a few sentences. I came to realize that one of my roommates (a highscool teacher) had the same problems teaching her students about chemistry or biology. I've always thought that a website (I may be thinking too small with the website) that allowed teachers, or really anyone, to post their best methods of teaching would be great.
It could work off of a rating system by other users. There could be one rating by teachers and one rating by students.

A fate worse than death

posted Oct 19, 2008, 10:30 AM by Yosef Shuman

Death is something humans have always feared and fought. While dying of old age is considered the most acceptable form, only a few lucky individuals will live to reach that point.  Of the many ways to die along the way, some are considered much more despicable or preferrable to others. Much time has been spent trying to staunch the leading causes of death, based purely on their large statistical numbers.

Although unnecessary death is a terrible thing, it is well known, at least within militant circles and interrogators , that the threat of a continued painfull existence is an even less preferable fate than death. in many cases, the suffering is so great that death is thought to be a much welcomed relief.

While avoiding the topic of euthanasia, we might try to discuss and find solutions, or attempt to alleviate, the worst forms of death or partial-death.
Although drowning is high up on the list of painful and horrible ways to die (and we have spoke at length about solutions), there may be much more painful, debilitating, and slower ways to pass away.

Applied Religion

posted Oct 18, 2008, 4:36 PM by Yosef Shuman

I notice a common thread through religions is a promise or hope for light and peace.
these two symbols tug at the heartstrings of both spiritual and non-spiritual humans alike.

Instead of fighting death, or trying to increase happiness, i wonder if we could focus on peace-making efforts.

on the other hand, i wonder if we could mass create soft, non-intrusive, and non-light-polluting lighting systems for indoor and especially outdoor systems.

two very very different ideas, both based on the same origins.

People Watching Killer (strange name by Yossi)

posted Oct 17, 2008, 10:28 PM by Mark Whiting

A tool to help break the ice and find people with like interests or related needs and services. The tool would be based on a hardware platform such as a mobile computing product or on a independent hardware unit which would offer notification when the appropriate kinds of people became proximal. The tool would offer various kinds of linking including recommendations for work, social associations, skills/weekenss collator etc. 

This idea may also build into some kind of contextual naming variable that could be used to help people establish contact and decide if they are interested in keeping in contact. 

In a many ways a lot of the ideas involved would be making a social internet style social/service network system that has realtime, local implications for people. Many of the features are derivable from real networks, such as linkedin, facebook, elance etc.

Reality Engine - No Opinions, Just Facts

posted Oct 9, 2008, 12:21 PM by Mark Whiting

Some famous lawyer once said "You can have your own opinions but not your own facts" when engaging in a political argument with someone. 

I think a tool that just spouts global facts in a really easy to digest manner would be a good step towards providing social change, both in the USA (and influencing the world) and in the rest of the world. It would be made up of subject labels, searching and grouping tools and of course data. The tool would be a website and would try hard to firstly have the most honest data but also data from the most sources etc. and secondly, have links to data about how the statistics are changing and other  related news. In other terms it would be a bit like a mashup of Google news, Gapminder, wikipedia, and a few other things. 

The kinds of data it would serve would be, largest causes of death, and then the user would be able to hoan the selection to a country or whatever. Other data types could be things like per capita polution, per capita expenditures etc. The point would be to represent undisputed data so people would be more aware and perhaps also with the aim of inspiring people to initiate change. 

better social network

posted Oct 9, 2008, 10:07 AM by Yosef Shuman   [ updated Oct 9, 2008, 12:25 PM by Mark Whiting ]

what if a social network also acted as a social coordinator?
if you could sign up for activities and events, and algorthms would match people and happenings.

Creating an internet for nonreaders

posted Oct 8, 2008, 11:51 AM by Mark Whiting

A large portion of the developing world can not read or write well. (Yes that is a blanket statement that I have no data to back up) 

I think right now most web services are based on the idea that people can read. I wonder if there is an opportunity behind assuming they can not and accommodating them. 

This could also tie into a learning tool which would help introduce natural language and reading to communities.

Lets Wire Africa using local contribution

posted Oct 7, 2008, 3:25 PM by Mark Whiting

Google currently has a project allowing people to contribute to building their own local maps on Google Maps. This is not enormously relevant in the west but in many countries where map data is scarce it seems to be a pretty influential thing. A recent post on Googles Lat Long Blog "Let's map Africa"

This project triggered the idea of creating information infrastructure nodes that could be distributed via a social meme in the same way. Getting locals to support the movement of information though an externally provided technology. 

I think if not used for web or other information services (mobile) the core concept of providing infrastructure to allow local contribution could be used in some other way. 

Encourage families to start later

posted Oct 7, 2008, 3:04 PM by Mark Whiting

Some statistic I read a while back (or perhaps that Andrew Telfer told me) suggested that there is a significant advantage gained by children parented by people over 30 years of age. It is said that a related study has shown that this is the most significant consistent contributing factor to the success of a child, more so than education of parents, or economic situation of parents. For this reason I imagine finding ways to make a greater portion of the worlds children born to parents over 30 could be of great influence to the world.  

Localising Walmart

posted Oct 5, 2008, 9:20 PM by Mark Whiting

A strategy for Walmart to improve local economies by hosting a low rent (or free) marketplace within their grounds, selling locally grown produce. 

This idea is designed to improve the role of Walmart in society while also providing an economically attractive solution. It is assumed that by selling locally grown goods on site the business of Walmart would improve and they could concentrate on more optimised markets. 

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