Poster of 1000 Personas
I would like to see the population of America represented as pictures of 1000 people. They would basically be a representative sample— if 20% of Americans are age 0 to 15, that’s 200 people on the poster would be too. Our minds are visual. Selling a product to x demographic with y people is not the same as selling it to a swath of people circled on a poster. Making this digital...
According to Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From, literary scholar Franco Moretti analyzed Brit Lit by “distant reading”— a short look at many, many popular books— rather than a close look at one or a few. He found that genres came and died every 25 to 30 years. Could a similar study of the NYT Bestseller’s reveal generation trends in America’s reading habits?
Business Hive Mind
I’ve only been working for a large corporation for a few months, but I can imagine that the realization of the huge amount of duplicated work and time wasted finding answers that others know will only grow as I work here longer. How can software help an organization collect and make available its knowledge, expertise, and ideas in a productive way? If I’m trying to find someone with...
Brain dot software equals brain times software!
Well in human factors it’s well known that you want software or any device with a user to have a predictable interface that conforms to a user’s mental model. With software, some individual applications do this, but I feel like a lot of our most fundamental paradigms are still what is easiest for the computer, not what is easiest for the user. Exhibit 1, the file system. Exhibit 2,...
Typos won't matter
I predict that in the future, most to all of the text entered on our computers will be auto-corrected for us at astoundingly accurate levels. It won’t matter how accurately we can type because we’ll be corrected well enough for even the sloppiest typing to turn very coherent. This might involve a lot of probability-based models for correction, which would be difficult for individual...
Online IDEs, please start existing.
The web is getting better. Web-drives? Happening. A web-based OS? Happening. Web-augmented reality? Happening now. Now that a bunch of our applications are starting to drift server-side, how about doing the same with our IDEs? I’d like something fast and lightweight, multiple-language, and free. Heroku is great, but it could stand a more robust text-editing environment, a little...
I’m tired of having the Adobe reader plugins for my internet browsers catch “control+t”, which I use all the time to open a new tab. Instead, the plugin should let control-t bubble up to the browser, and I can then open a new tab quickly every time. This seems to be pretty consistent across browsers too. Adobe, how about it?
Get out of bed like a champion
A few years ago, my roommate and I decided to set our alarm clocks to super-grandiose classical music, rather than the pop song radio wake-up calls (or free ringtones) we had been using. This worked great. Waking up to trumpet fanfares on top volume made me want to float out of bed and conquer the world. I’d like to see an alarm clock that does that. Of course, I have plenty of other...
the scariest.info #hackathon
If you’ve ever been to http://thecutest.info/, it’s a site to rank the cutest pictures in the world using a voting algorithm. That’s nice and all, but what’s the scariest image? A lot of what’s scary is determined by the context of a background story, but for individual images, I’m very curious as to what would appear. P.S. Never really did get back into...
regarding the hiatus
I have been out of the country for a month, and now getting back into the swing of things. A furious rate of posting should begin presently.
online gift list #hackathon
A private gift list that you can update with gifts that you want to get for others at the appropriate time and the links of where to buy them. A period before the time itself, it reminds you to buy the gifts.
community grocery list #hackathon
I’m going to be posting some ideas generated at a hackathon that I recently participated in at my college. It was a 24 hour ruby on rails extravaganza, preceded by an ideation session. Most of these ideas are not my own. With that being said, the first idea: An online list that multiple people can update with groceries/supplies that they need, and the ability for one member to mark off...
I belong to many e-mail lists at my college that contain e-mails that “expire” after a certain amount of time— 5 minutes, an hour, a day, a week… It would be cool to have a feature where the author of the e-mail could set an e-mail expiration date and a script on my computer would calculate when to delete these e-mails. It would be a great way of dealing with a good chunk...
focusing on wikipedia
As I mentioned yesterday, I get distracted on Wikipedia quite a bit. Some navigations between pages are relevant, but often times I get distracted by some other link. I think a good way to tell if a link is relevant or a distraction is to measure the number of pages that are linked to by both the page I’m on and the page I’m going to. In other words, if the two pages are fairly...
count to 300...
Using Google documents to make a survey is a great experience, but it’s kind of slow going to enter any serious number of questions. It would be cool to see the analogue of wiki formatting applied to a survey— i.e. to make a radio button question, write the question, then type tab-“o”-space before every possible answer.
timeline of my life
I’d like to see a website that allows users to make a timeline of their life. It would allow me to post things like individual photos, photo albums, short text entires, longer text entries, and attached documents. It would be good for visualization of what I’m producing, what I’m doing, how I’m spending my time, and other life statistics..
I got in the bad habit of updating this thing every day. Of course, that can only last so long (see the previous post). So what would be really nice is a service that will provide a daily e-mail at whatever time you would like (perhaps nightly at 10 pm) that would remind you to do all the things you need to do once per day— update your tumblr, read your rss, etc.
Riding razor scooters can be a fun way to get around, but whenever you try and prop them up against a wall, the handlebars turn 90 degrees, making the wheels perpendicular to each other, and then the scooter falls over. Instead, have a small kickstand that’s on the front column of the scooter that you can fold down with your foot to allow the scooter to stand without falling.
super-simple e-mail images
In an effort to avoid the attention of spam bots, many sites display e-mail addresses as simple images that just show the address. I’d like to see a site that publicly does this. You pass it some information about the address, and it checks to see if it has the image. Otherwise, it makes one up. Either way, you can have your e-mail image given to you. This service could be charged for. ...
How about a service that you send a postcard to, and it sends it to someone else in the world who’s signed up for that service at random. Then they can send you something back. But the idea is you have no idea when you’ll get one, from who, or where yours go to.
non-traditional internship database
As I think about what I’ll be doing after college, I think the ideal job for me would involve some amount of “thinking of lots of different ideas, strategies and tactics”. But I can’t really go to someone and say “give me an internship in thinking of stuff”. I feel like there are a number of people looking for quasi-technical, non-traditional type internships,...
Apparently facebook shows you more mini-feed stories related to people whose profiles or pictures you view frequently. I would like to see the converse put into effect as well. Facebook would show the other person more stuff about you if you went to their profile a lot. Then if you became better acquaintances, odds are good that facebook would have helped you get to know them better already.
Those big buckets of jelly beans are ruined by the coffee, popcorn and pineapple jelly beans— how come I can’t order a set of custom flavors online instead? Maybe I can, but it’s just a thought I had…
a game for forums
I’d like to see a game on forums where a piece of software integrates the amount of time each poster has the last post on a given thread. The end-date is far out in the future. By trying to be the most recent poster, you encourage others to post after you, but that is a postive feedback loop. When the loop slows down, whoever’s at the end of it will get the most points. Assuming...
back to a different domain
Often times when I open a new tab, I’m simply trying to navigate back to the domain /before/ I got distracted searching another site. So a back to the previous domain button would be useful.
tools for teamwork
How come two of the best tools for small group collaboration— the whiteboard and Basecamp— have absolutely no integration? I’d like to see something that combines the best of both of those and makes small group collaboration easier.
make graphs now (.com)
I’d like to see a website where users can make all sorts of graphs on the fly. They could be either public or private facing. This would include rarer types of graphs, and perhaps interactive displays as well. Timelines and drill-down pie charts are a must.
the fourth wave
In a lot of ways, words are analogous to classes in object oriented programming, especially with inheritance and properties and such. However, even OOP isn’t an excellent paradigm for natural language. Perhaps a new paradigm is needed for computers to learn language, one where all logic is fuzzy and all things are classes and the whole point is relationships.
an outstanding problem in web 2 .0
The most powerful recommendation is from someone who addresses me by name and says “you would like this”. How can you combine the power of someone who knows you personally with a website that recommends thing for you to do?
make a little eye contact, people
It seems like the subway rides I’m on are a bunch of people trying to avoid making eye contact. Instead of wasting those half hours, what if I could spend them talking to fellow riders about common interests? I’d like to see an iPhone app or something similar that lets me know when people who share common interests are around me— “real time social networking,” as...
You want ideas?
Ain’t got any. Fresh out.
Quantum Physics for Dummies
I’ve always believed that a vast majority of kids are intellectually capable of a full order of magnitude more than school requires of them. Earlier this spring, I had a chance to teach fourth graders who had never studied physics to make correct predictions and give correct explanations of physical situations using free body diagrams (including vector algebra)— solely by asking...
for those among us who drink adrenaline
1. zipline between hot air balloons at 5000 ft 2. skydiving over ocean while wearing suit that allows free-fall into water (considers impact and rapid water pressure change) 3. getting keelhauled by an airplane
facebook app #1
I would be curious to know if some of my facebook friends know other of my friends that aren’t in their network. This is similar to searching all of your friends’ “mutual friends” lists for oddities. Who knew that girl-who-moved-away-in-second-grade knows college-roommate?!
book for two
In my final reflection for a design course I helped organize last spring, I suggested designing things that help people bond as a way to avoid encouraging materialism while still doing product design. This is my first idea for something that really follows those lines. I would like to see a book, or actually two books, that were written to be read by two people together, and involved the...
Fortran on Rails– G. Sass
pushing the art form
For centuries, western art has continually pushed its own boundaries. Now, few art forms remain “un-pushed” to a variety of conceivable limits. But movies remain un-pushed, in my opinion. I want to coordinate the making of a movie so long, no one can watch it. I’m thinking a 20 year long movie would be suitable. Obviously, I couldn’t just make it. I would have to...
wikipedia box set
50 volumes. 1400 pages each. Need I say more?
I’d like to see totally simple collaboration where you click a button in a document that says “mark for collab” and bluetooth, the internet, or some hard cable will communicate between the two computers to the degree that you can see the other person’s mouse, but you still have full control over what you view. (January 2008)
Odds are good that a full 40% of most of the programming I do is somewhat repetitive— not necessarily the same statements over and over, but a repetitive parallel structure. It would be really neat to have a smart IDE that recognizes how things change from one line to the next and offers advanced auto-complete options.
my first social networking idea ever
… with the possible exception of my first post on this blog. Essentially, I want to find people who are really similar to me. There is someone who applied to the exact 7 schools I did the year that I did— and based on the schools, we were probably the only 2 in the nation. It was a really cool bond. Now what if I could specify things that defined me, and how much I thought they...
When I first went skiing, I was suprised to learn that there were many courses that went all the ways down moutains and went for miles. When I first went on a waterslide, I was suprised that the opposite was true.
software effects pedals
I would like to see someone sell, or develop open-source, software that allows you to plug an electric instrument into your computer and run it through an amp or effects pedal, which would output sound to speakers. If it were sold, 5 to 10 dollars an effect would be a breather from current effects pedals. Or if you made tons, the non-distorted effects would be free and the rest a few dollars. ...
Yeah, we have an in-house user interface engineer.– A high-ranking naval official talking at our school about designing controls for a UAV that lands on aircraft carriers— probably one of heaviest interfaces known to man
I was talking with one of my friends yesterday night about how a certain part of novels is ruined just by knowing how many more pages you have to go. This brought to mind two thoughts. One could write a novel where you skip from page 1 to 314 to 159 and so on, until on one page or another it ends. So you sort of lose your place in the pages, and so there’s a new take on what the end of the...
I predict that within five years, kids cheating by outsourcing essays to India or some other country will make headlines. I haven’t heard of it yet, but I can’t be the only one to think of it. (November 2007)
Google books needs a “cite this book” button that automatically generates an MLA citation for the book you’re currently reading. (February 2008)
dictionary of -isms
I would really like to see a dictionary of “isms”, or something that conveyes the main camps of philosophical, religious, and psychological philosophies. In other words, anything where people disagree. An entry might include a brief summary, like, “TRINITARIANISM: as opposed to UNITARIANISM, contains CATHOLICISM, etc…” as well as a short description. This would...