Monday, March 28, 2005

Hanging in a chow line: Good Times!

From an idea I had a while ago:
I just went to the post office; it's a Saturday, and it's noon, and I thought it would be really crowded. It was nearly empty. (In fact, they have installed a new "self-shipping" ATM-style thing that I was going to use, but there was a line for it. There was not a line to talk to a human at the normal window. Rise of the machines, I guess.)

In any case, I want an application that I call "
Good Times". It lets you enter an activity ("going to the post office"), a time and a date, optional weather conditions. It then lets you rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, how crowded the activity was. After you do this a few times, it starts to suggest "Good times" to you: "laundry is usually smooth sailing on Saturdays at 2pm" and also bad times: "Post office is almost always crowded between 12 and 2"

My brother replied, "Your Good Times is a lot more useful if a lot of people in your area did it, and all synchronized up to the same database." We saw two obvious problems with this "Social Good Times": if it works too well, the "Good Times" might no longer be any good, and the whole system would need to do something to prevent bogus data entry.

He also pointed out that the revenue stream for "Social Good Times" comes from selling the demographic information that it's collecting. ("single men age 35-50 like to shop at your store on Sunday evenings").


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