Idea: Weekly roundups for social media autoposting

A lot of location-based/check-in apps have an option to automatically post your latest activity to a social network. This is really fun, but after awhile, especially if you’re using the application a lot, people can get burned out on all the posts. They might, depending on their social networking tool, block those posts, or even block you!

Another problem is that there is no real meaning to this information. Sure, it’s nice to let people know what spots you like, but by posting each individual check-in, you’re putting the onus of aggregating that information to find the meaning on yourself and your friends. Nobody’s going to go back and read all your check-ins to try to come up with a conclusion, and you’re not likely to do it either.

A third problem, which I mentioned in my post about using iPhones as travel tools, is safety and privacy. Simply put, it can be unsafe to constantly broadcast your location or other information to the world.

To deal with these issues, I suggest services offer a “weekly roundup” option. Instead of posting to social networks multiple times a day, services would do one post a week. That post would include a link to a webpage with that user’s activities for the whole week. For example, Gowalla’s weekly roundup on Twitter might look like this:

@cosleia went to Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant and 15 other places this week! Click here for roundup:

Already, by having one post a week, the deluge of information is dammed up and released as a very manageable stream. And roundups would provide much-needed context, as well. For example, there could be various messages for different situations; if a person went to the same place several times, the message could say:

@cosleia went to Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant five times this week! See where else she went:

And then I would know that I need to stop eating out so much ;)

Similarly, with RunKeeper, a weekly roundup could let people know how many times I ran that week, how far I went, how many calories I burned, what my best time was that week, or any number of things. People who saw the post would be able to tell if I’d improved over the course of the week, and if so, how.

We’re emerging into an age where information on almost anything and anyone is constantly available…but once the initial novelty has worn off, what’s the use of all that data? Putting a week’s worth of data together would provide context for both the viewer and the user of the app.

And finally, weekly roundups would eliminate the danger of posting your exact location in real time. You’d still be sharing your favorite places with your friends, but in a less immediate way.

Ultimately, it’s great that we have the ability to store and broadcast so much data. But if we don’t turn that data into something useful, it’s pretty pointless. Weekly roundups would be a great first step towards generating real, meaningful information from all that data.

Perhaps eventually apps could offer a special section on their sites where users could view their activity trends for weeks, months, or years at a time. It would be like for activities! In the case of location-based apps, this part would probably need to be private, so it wouldn’t be easy for someone else to track where the user is likely to be at any given time.

Here’s hoping app creators start thinking about how user data can be utilized–not just for advertising revenue, but for the user’s own benefit.

Idea: Tidy Tea

I have an idea that could help people with two growing problems: the tedium of household chores, and the lack of time to spend with friends/family. I call it the Tidy Tea.

One day a week, a small group of friends plans a traveling tidy-up get-together. They start at one house, tidy up, pause for a short break, then move to the next. During the cleaning the friends get the chance to reconnect, to talk, to enjoy each other’s company. For the break they could have a small healthful snack and a nice cup of tea and just sit back and relish their handiwork.

At the last house, everyone could pitch in and cook dinner, and then more friends/family and spouses could arrive and everyone could eat together. The dinner might only happen once a month rather than every week, but it would be a lot of fun.

The cleaning would need to be limited to certain things: dusting, washing windows, etc. No house should get more effort than another–at least, not consistently. We know emergencies or bad weeks happen, and that would be taken into account, but it wouldn’t be cool for someone to leave their house a horrific mess for their friends to clean up.

Ultimately, having a tidy crew come through each week should inspire each participant to keep everything put in its place instead of lying all over the house, so that the cleaning work would simply be routine maintenance, and not cleaning up someone’s messes.

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged , ,

The amazing potential of Augusta Mall

Today I took a leisurely walk around the Augusta Mall. Outside, that is. The walk convinced me that the mall has some serious potential, if they would make a few key changes.

It took about 40 minutes to get around the mall. Unfortunately I didn’t use my GPS so I’m not sure of the exact distance, but since I was probably going 2.8 mph, we’ll say it’s roughly a one and three quarters mile walk. That’s a nice distance for people who are just getting back into shape, but long enough that people can do several circuits without getting immediately bored. 

However, there are places where walking is difficult. There are stairs in a few places that you’d have to go the long way around to avoid. And there isn’t always a sidewalk, so I had to occasionally make my way through parking lots or across the grass. I felt badly about the latter because the grounds at the mall are so beautiful–perfect scenery for a nice walk, with flowers, greenery, and lots of shady trees.

With that all in mind, I think the mall could benefit from designating a walking trail, perhaps in brick to match the existing outdoor promenade, with clearly-marked crossings and perhaps a tunnel or two for handicapped ramp access. This would not only enhance the storefronts of the larger shopping areas, but would also attract routine walkers to the mall.

People who might not initially be interested in shopping would be drawn to the scenery, safety, and convenience of walking at the mall. While walking inside the mall is possible, it’s not quite as appealing as being under the sun. It can get crowded, too, and interfere with store business. Creating a place right outside for walking would ease shopping traffic flow and give serious walkers more room.

The mall could then capitalize on the influx of serious walkers with water and sports drink vending machines, fitness kiosks, and signs directing walkers to healthy choices at the food court. They could even go a step further and offer a membership or pay-as-you-go gym right inside the mall. (There would probably need to be rules about showering before entering the mall proper.)

Another option would be to offer a full-service health spa, with massages and soaks and such.

Make the mall attractive in more ways than simply a place to buy things, and the people who come for one service might stay for another. The mall could become an oasis for Augusta living. 

Social media language study suggestion

I think it would be cool if a bunch of people studying a language would go out and take photos of signs written entirely in that language and upload them somewhere (probably Flickr, people always use Flickr for this sort of thing) and tag them so others can find them. Then we would have a huge group of real-life flash cards that we could use on our computers to familiarize ourselves with the vocabulary found on signs. It could be place names, common warnings, business names, sales, things like that. Basically, the idea is to give vocabulary (and how to write it) relevance.

I put some rather mediocre photos from 2001 up to start.