21 August 2005

Genius idea

Create a wiki to manage social events/happenings. It should allow those events to be easily searched and categorized, but of equal importance, as with most wikis, it should allow anyone to manage the entries. Too often, I've gone to closed, business-owned sites that are generally over-full with ads or diluted with out-of-date information. If the information isn't out-of-date, the sites collect it in an exclusionary manner with pay-per-placement and by acting as editorial guards to what they consider worth reporting. This sounds like a familiar problem that an open Web site could solve.

The idea came to me based on when I would be out at a restaurant that had half-off bottles of wine, or weekly trivia, or even when I'd see a flyer for music at some hole-in-the-wall. This information might make it into disparate places--Creative Loafing, AccessAtlanta, or the restaurants' Web sites--but each has its problems. There are the problems of access described above but also problems of navigation often caused by the ads that necessitate as many page-views as possible. The medium is serving as a barrier to the message. The restaurant or bar sites, along with their mailing lists, are just too numerous to be useful. I can't, and I doubt others can, regularly visit the Web page of every restaurant I may-or-may-not go to. Even then, I'd miss new places that might have a rare special on meals or wine tastings.

All of the benefits of a wiki are obvious: information self-organizes and stays current. New information would appear as it becomes known and disappear when no longer relevant. The problems are with personal and corporate spam: kids could add their favorite swear word as an event, anyone could add their private to-dos, and restaurants could add their name for every day even though nothing special is happening. I think I had read the statement at some point from Burningbird that wikis cannot be maintained without the effort of many editors to filter spam. Some programming efforts can mitigate this, but ultimately it will exist in some form to be edited out.

The focus is to make the site event-centric and not location-centric. This could be a big deficiency, but maintaining a directory of restaurants and museums and theaters seems out of the scope. Deciding what restaurant to go to is a different problem that knowing what special events are happening.

I had already begun work on this idea (my current new project), but wanted to put it out here. Information needs to be free, yo, and who says I'm the right person to accomplish this. It's a fun programming project at the very least.

[ posted by sstrader on 21 August 2005 at 12:52:15 PM in Culture & Society ]