↑ comment by KrisC ·
2012-08-20T22:55:04.289Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Thanks for the review Epiphany. This is the kind of feedback I have a hard time finding.
The general message I received from your post is that I undersold the project. I did seek to keep my expectations understated. This audience does not seem to like overstated expectations.
There have been times when I have explained the project and felt that the person I was speaking to encountered an ah ha! moment, an epiphany. This is the kind of feedback that makes me feel good, but it is usually not very constructive.
Let me address your points.
This will be a frequent assumption: Decision-making app? On a phone? This can't happen.
Not much I can say to someone who makes up there mind on the first sentence. If the description were restructured this objection could be put off, but how would that help?
It is have been very difficult to categorize this app. If decision-making app is not the right phrase, what is? Wish fulfillment app seems even more preposterous. Search engine is misleading, as the search is only a step towards meeting a desire. Some people have mistaken it for a shopping app, which is only partly correct.
I think what you're saying is "Once the user types what they want, the phone does it like a command. It can do almost any command this way." Really, what needs to be in place of this paragraph is an example. The example should either support the decision-making claim, or the decision making claim needs to be reworded.
Once the user types - or says - what they want, the phone lists a set of search results. Upon selecting one, a screen is displayed, perhaps but not necessarily indicating what function of the phone will be activated. The most common action is the display of a link in a browser. It could however dial phone number, show a movie, ask the user to respond to a question, send a text message, or even send a message to a piece of electronics.
So let's say you say you want an apple. One result may post a link to a price aggregator which tracks local supermarkets and show you where apples are on sale. Another result might suggest that you grow an apple tree. A third result could tell you that recent research suggests that people who want apples actually need more exercise and suggests you do jumping jacks. A final result might be a picture of a lolcat with an apple.
From your history, the program knows that you are more likely to accept results from the contributor who lists an apple as a fruit available from a supermarket price aggregator. That result will go on top. The contributor who posted the erroneous research you had already banned, so that result is handicapped in the rankings. You may end up clicking on the funny picture and give it an approval, depending on your mood, and thus end the search. In the future, you will not only receive more results from that source higher in the rankings, but also your app will spread that result preferentially to peers.
The application incorporates a screensaver... which showcases emerging technologies
[W]hy is it included?
What may not be evident is that the purpose of the app is not to get people more stuff. The purpose of the app is to refine the procedures that users follow to get things that they ask for. The decision of what the "best" method is highly personal, and so the ranking is personal and informed by the opinions of like-minded peers.
So what does this have to do with the screensaver? The screensaver is the means to put into the users' minds and hands the things that I want to have available: space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension. By placing these things into an application which improves the methods of acquiring them through open source methods, they will hopefully be developed faster. This is a concrete boon to humanity.
It is my intent to develop the content in another application. However, to make use of the power of crowd-sourcing the content needs to be linked to the app.
How will the commercial version support itself?
There are no costs to pay that I haven't already paid. Google provides the hosting. Users provide the phones and the content. I and future open source developers develop the product.
What is being paid for that's not available in the free version?
The slightest of bells and whistles. Background colors and images. The paid version is a bit of a joke. The user could just download the free version and ask the app how to get the premium features.
The paid developer version is, on the other hand, a sincere fundraising attempt.
If you don't answer questions about money immediately, people lose interest very fast.
Still don't think 'people' are getting it. The primary value is not derived from being the owner of the distribution of the software. The value is realized by the person using the app. It provides a forum for the competitive evaluation of methods of production and acquisition for the benefit of the users.
A secondary type of value is extracted by contributors. They get to influence users directly. Unlike a mere Wikipedia editor who provides background information, these contributors tell people what to buy and how to live their lives.
This reputation-based value is a potential path to monetization. By providing the app, we also have the ability to provide the seed database. I myself do not drink Pepsi. If I clone my own database and provide it as the seed, Pepsi will not be included. With the right inducement I can include PepsiCo as the source of Pepsi. Or even provide a link to the (hypothetical?) Pepsi distributor locator app.
I do not see a reason for the name "hope" or "plan a."
I 'hope' that I can find a way to 'plan a' way to get what I want. Please give me a better suggestion.
Is there something about this method of conception that makes your plan special?
3D printer operators need models which are easy to provide via a database. 3D models can do double duty as elements used to create animated scenes such as used in the screensaver.
Closer to the core, the app is about individuals meeting their needs better. Not only can 3D printers provide completely customized items specific to the user, they can also be used to build other tools. With a 3D printer and the right set of instructions, the user will be able to provide for many of their own needs. While the scope of 3D printers' capabilities are currently somewhat limited, there is little doubt that their abilities will increase to a point where they are profitable for many more people to own.
I'll have to see how it helps the world in order to invest significant time into it. You didn't include that in your post.
The app helps the world with the same goal as SI's rationality outreach program, just using different means. We all want people to make better decisions. It would be nice if everyone learned better critical thinking skills. I just want to automate those skills in an app.
Point it out, or else leave that note out to respect the reader's limited time and lack of need to know this info.
You have a point about requiring the readers to keep thinking to get the whole message. But Socrates had a contrary opinion when it came to learning. Learning takes place in your head, not your ears. I am trying to recruit developers -- people who need to keep thinking about this in order to be useful at this time.
So in summary, I have heard it said that in order to create a successful social app you should take something you learned in EvoPsych and automate it. I am attempting to mimic the two methods of decision making. Either imitate a successful peer or do the research yourself. In this context, use the app and, when you have a better idea than what is listed, contribute content.
Replies from: Epiphany
↑ comment by Epiphany ·
2012-08-21T01:22:32.451Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
The solution to disbelief is to make a verifiable claim. You can get clobbered so hard for making a verifiable claim that is wrong that it seems bold and people will hear you out then. Also, they can relax as soon as they have consciously noted to themselves that there is some way to test what you said - they're no longer paranoid that you can fool them when they have such an easy way to prove you wrong.
And sometimes it's best to let people see for themselves, be impressed, and categorize something by themselves. So, instead of "It makes decisions." I would give an example that is immediately verifiable as soon as you use the program. I would say "Type in X and it will say Y" - give a few more impressive examples to give the gist of the way that this thing "reasons" or whatever it does.
Hmmm... this is almost like a phone operating system, a different interface that's essentially language-based rather than visual-spatial. That could be really handy, especially if you're having a terrible time finding your buttons. Heck, I'd love to have that on my computer. And it does speech recognition? That's awesome.
Okay, I now understand why some people will think its awesome. (:
"From your history, the program knows that you are more likely to accept results from the contributor who lists an apple as a fruit available from a supermarket price aggregator. That result will go on top. "
Oh wow. I see this now. The implications for targeted advertising are all over that. I wonder what your stance is on targeted advertising? If you take a stance of "no" on that early on, I'd advertise that and put your decision in a prominent place - there's a growing movement of people who are starting to understand that they're being tracked and they don't like it. You'll get more respect and attention from them if you refuse to use it. Might be a way to stand out from competitors at some point, either now or in the future.
Those three paragraphs (with the search, the apple, and the way it selects results) were a really good start at explaining.
I feel like the screen saver fits in now, which is because my mind has decided this is kind of like an operating system. Or an operating system upgrade. Or a totally new paradigm about how to use your phone. That's enough of an umbrella to make a screensaver make sense.
Ok, so to confirm: the screensaver is a way to promote ideas? You want the public to know about technologies that you want to see happen so that they happen faster?
"It is my intent to develop the content in another application. However, to make use of the power of crowd-sourcing the content needs to be linked to the app."
That feels out of context.
So do you intend to make money off of the app or not? If not, definitely mention that it's non-profit. If this particular method (selling background colors) has been proven profitable, then cite an example and the amount of profit. Either making the claim if being non-profit or making a claim to know how to profit is really important. That's a lot of people's first question and a lot of people won't take you seriously if you don't have a realistic answer.
"This reputation-based value is a potential path to monetization."
Do you have plans in place for spammers? If not, they will ruin your app. Think I'm kidding? Back in 1998 you could try and find a pair of shoes on line, or some glasses, or other mundane household items. It didn't matter what you typed in because every result would be porn.
That's what will happen to your app if you have no security against it.
Wow 3-D printers. You have quite a vision for cell phones.
Okay, I'm going to suggest another rewrite: If I was you, I would start with the three paragraphs I mentioned before (with the search, the apple, and the way it selects results), elaborate / add information, and also, let the reader know how many users your app has so far. If it's growing quickly, let us know how long it takes to double?
Replies from: KrisC
↑ comment by KrisC ·
2012-08-21T18:29:02.653Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Before I get to the rewrite, let me an answer some questions. The pitch is not the place to answer all questions, but instead just enough to recruit users
There are a few misconceptions that I have allowed to creep in in order to simplify my description. While I am currently writing the app to be run on a smartphone, this is only the current design iteration. It started as a website, but websites can't properly store data locally. This took up several redesigns until I moved onto a standalone Java app. Then the rise of smartphones happened. Smartphones have many features to recommend them for this application. They are ubiquitous, feature a modular code design, and specialize in data transfer. And they are programmed in Java, so minimal learning curve.
The point of the backstory is that smartphones are a single form factor. A more visually appealing form factor is, what I refer to as, the 'magic mirror.' The magic mirror is a Raspberry Pi running Android and connected to a wall mounted flat screen TV. This TV is not a dedicated device, but a ~$35 component which runs the app on a single input (HDMI) to the TV. The premium version of the app makes configuration very easy.
Another form factor is far more utilitarian. A headless version, run on a Raspberry Pi, executes pre-programmed queues of commands without user interaction.
Note to makers: The reliance on the Raspberry Pi is not absolute. I was thinking Arduino before. The program is only in Java and Android because I decided to learn Java to execute the project. Rapberry Pi is the cheapest computer that runs Android that I know of.
Money at the App Store
Honestly, money is a secondary concern. This project is a tool.
Even if no one else ever uses the app, I will draw value from it (though perhaps not enough to offset the time invested already, but that's Sunk Cost and written off).
Even if someone steals the idea, the open source version will be more efficient because it does not need to incorporate overhead to support financial motives. I have sufficient code and description posted to protect my own right to develop and publish. This development trail goes back several years across multiple sites.
So let's look at possible sources of revenue anyway.
The app store is a possible source of income. If there is a free version of an app and a pay version, some people will pay for the app. I wouldn't, but some people will. As I said above, the only thing I want to give those people is a little ease of customization.
Another way the app store can be used to generate income is through soliciting donations. When you ask for people's time and then ask for people's money, you get more of people's money then a direct request for donations. Using the hierarchy of gamification rewards (Status, Access, Power, Stuff), the first reward we give is status.
Another reinforcement mechanism that I am trying to call into play amounts to triggering the Sunk Cost Fallacy in users who decide to become contributors - financial or content. This is the lesser of the two purposes for splitting the app into two implementations. Users who go to the trouble of downloading an new app are going to feel the need to make use of its features. The relevant feature is the ability to add content.
The user is directed to download a new app ('Plan A') after they have created new content on their own (as opposed to when solicited from a peer). At this moment the user is being asked to take an extra step, possibly have to delete things from their phone, and to download a new copy of the app. This is because they have said they know how to do something better than someone else. This is when we ask them to upgrade to contribute more, and this is where we ask them for money. Maximum is $20 on Android market per app sale.
The new version of the app simply displays a full set of options for creating new content. These settings can be confusing for lay users which is the major reason they are kept apart. The same functionality should be accessible from the search bar in any version of the app.
Android apps make very little money compared to iPhone apps. Porting to iPhone should be an early priority.
Money and advertisers
The model here is the phonebook. Businesses pay to get listed. We administer the starting directory that every app loads with. This is baked in at the code level in a mechanism used to simplify comparing databases. Under most conditions users will not be deleting these initial tables from their own devices. This does not guarantee top ranking, only the inclusion of the correct information in the results. If you don't pay, you aren't guaranteed even that.
This is not meant to be a capitalist endeavor. It is meant to compete in a capitalist marketplace. The project is meant to drive users to other open source projects and solutions.
In terms of utility modeling:
Every open source advance is available to me, so my fitness is increased by the sum of all open source knowledge. So is everyone else's. Preferential access to open source solutions exist. Fitness is a relative measure in a closed system.
I want "to be reminded to take my pills twice a day"
Sample Responses: set alarm "Take my pills" every twelve hours, set alarm "Take my pills twice a day" time to be specified, text messages on timers.
User chooses to look for additional alternatives. Request sent to peers in network. User will not be satisfied without in home care. An opportunity. User could have been satisfied with talking to her daughter on the phone as she was actually looking for companionship.
I want "I'm hungry"
Sample Responses: google maps closest restaurant, closest supermarket, local peer with excess food.
User closes search screen without selecting anything because the google map preview was sufficient. Ratings remain unchanged.
I want "to learn German"
Sample Respones: google search with a website that teaches German, peer offering language lessons in exchange for dinner, Rosetta Stone website.
User chooses the peer tutoring based on the photo in the response.
The sharing algorithm is meant to allow spammers in, but force them to have a lower reputation. They play by the rules. I want something. They offer something. Their offer is of low value so they don't get up-voted.
My fear is account hijacking.
I don't have users because I don't have a demo yet. I have abandoned my last several builds due to difficulties of peer to peer networking. What I have are small groups of reviewers who I consult for advice. Even that runs into problems. I usually only get one round of feedback from each person before they agree. And then stop providing meaningful feedback.
What I need are developers. I have taught myself various computer languages for the purpose of putting this program together. Experienced developers would hopefully already know how to implement the missing components. To reach developers I need a demo. So the only thing I can see to do is to continue work on the demo and to build up supporters and collateral skills and assets in the meantime.
Replies from: Epiphany
↑ comment by Epiphany ·
2012-10-06T01:01:21.527Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I'm sorry for the delay. I got tied up in other things for a while. Here are my thoughts:
Okay, it was really important for me to realize you weren't trying to make money, you're just trying to do something useful. I think, with each presentation you make, you should make it explicit either that your presentation is ONLY for the end users (if so), OR (if not) that you're doing this as an act of altruism / hobby / non-profit organization / however you classify it.
Another reinforcement mechanism that I am trying to call into play amounts to triggering the Sunk Cost Fallacy
Really? Wouldn't it be better for all constructive purposes if you showed a solid reason to invest? Not only does that provide a more stable basis for getting investments, but it will force you to reality-check and ensure that your users are getting something of value out of the project. Not forcing yourself to jump through that hoop might result in a lost opportunity for getting important feedback / taking it seriously.
Okay, why will users use a phone book that has only a few entries? Why will businesses pay for inclusion in a phone book if users aren't using it? Neither users or businesses will want to use your phone book in the beginning. This is a catch-22. How will you begin it?
It occurs to me to wonder what kinds of competing apps are out there and how yours compares to them. I'm not a cell phone apps connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I barely use my phone. If I could speak all my commands to it, it might actually be useful to me for some purpose other than time sensitive calls while I'm out of the house - I can't stand typing each letter individually when I know I can do up to at least 105 wpm on a keyboard. If lost, I will take advice from ten strangers before I try and use it to pull up online maps. For this reason, convincing users to choose your app instead of competitors is probably not among my best abilities. All I can really do help you figure out how to make your presentation understood.