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How to meet people, a borg's perspective

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May. 5th, 2003 | 12:24 am

So I should be studying for a biology midterm that I don't feel like talking anyone into grading. But infused with some more confidence from all the supportive comments from long depressed post, I started trying to find a solution to the problem of how to meet people.



So the first idea I had was to wander around with a wearable computer, using a mesh network with a metadata browser and chat tool. The two borgs would walk by and their equipment would scan each other for some semantic web documents indicating what each borg is like and what type of personal interaction they might be interested in, and if there's a match offer to open up a chat window, before revealing each others actual location.

Of course, if the goal is to meet people before 2100 it'll only work with a few geeks at places like MIT or perhaps Caltech.

On to the next idea. Drop the wearable (well put it down gently, they tend to be pretty expensive) and use a laptop. Come up with some extention to the rendezvous version of iChat so you could at least meet people at cybercafes (and schools, and several libraries) (And also come up a port for OSes other than OS X), but otherwise the leave the rest of the idea. The laptop exports some information to provide clues who you might want to talk to and provides the IM client to see if the other person is interested as well.

Still, if the goal is to meet people, that's still a pretty restricted set of spaces that version would work in. There are many places you wouldn't want to take a laptop to.

So then I saw Mesh Messanging. Unfortunately I couldn't find any details of the software they were using to set up the bluetooth access point, especially how to allow the phones to chat with each other over bluetooth. So I'm wondering if it might be specific to the Nokia phone they mention.

I do suppose as an alternative to using too much technology to solve this problem, there's always walking up to people at events where it's likely that people share some interests in common. Problem is that's really hard for most of us, and if one person does become sufficiently extroverted, it doesn't help very many others.

For instance lesbian clubs have frequently tried various tricks to encourage people to mingle with each other instead of hiding in the corner or only spending time with friends. It's helped some but it's still pretty rare for anyone to talk to someone they don't already know. (Therefore, back to seeing if too much tech can make this any better.)

So what I'm currently thinking might work, is some website where people can register provide some personal details and possibly get suggestions on who they might want to meet. (Nothing different from a standard singles website)

Now the fun part, imagine for a moment you do have a bluetooth access point at some club that your phone can connect to. Assuming this service is popular, you can then browse to see whose inside and see if you want to go in. Also once inside if several bits of technology can be sufficiently misused you might also be able to get announcements when friends show up. (Being told who's present in a crowded space I think is a good candidate for a killer-app for the pervasive network of your choice).

Also for meeting new people, this service would using the data from the main website to suggest people you might want to meet in the area and offer a way to text message them. Both providing a low investment way to see they're also interested in meeting and (perhaps more important, at least for me) allowing communication in a noisy club.

Looking at that list it almost sounds like just an extended group IM that can be used from a phone or pda. An example of a service like this is locus.net, though they're UK based.

The last idea that I have even less idea how to make work is to try and provide some cooperative games that can be started through the chat system. I think providing some cooperative (or at least team vs team) games gives something casual to talk about while they become more comfortable with the people they just met.

Any comments? (other than linking to different sites with adjacent words is annoying?)

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Comments {5}

Clare T. Rampling

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from: rampling
date: May. 5th, 2003 06:18 am (UTC)
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And now for something completely different.

You could join Friendster -- "everybody's doing it". I'm listed under Clare Rampling. One cool thing it has is the ability to search your "friends network" (people up to and including four hops away in your Friendster tree) by distance from you, if you've entered your zip code. I've already found one person I casually met who I want to get to know better, and another person who I may email. It's free, and no big investment. And lots of LJ poeple are participating, too.

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Clare T. Rampling

(no subject)

from: rampling
date: May. 5th, 2003 06:24 am (UTC)
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OK, just kidding 'bout the "different" part. ;) But I just sent you a invite code, in case you're intrested.

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Josh

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from: irilyth
date: May. 5th, 2003 08:10 am (UTC)
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Seems to me like there's two separate parts here: Finding people to meet, and being comfortable meeting them. On-line database-based approaches, like match.com (used to work there, but a bunch of friends have used them and liked them; I haven't myself), seem like a good solution to the finding problem, and seem better to me than compatible-person-detectors that you'd wear, since there are many more people in the database than there are crossing your physical path.

The comfort problem is harder, and seems to me less amenable to technical solutions.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: May. 5th, 2003 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Well the online databases are the more practical solution. But I really do like the idea of using a cell phone to check to see if anyone you know is at a club or other crowded venue. Also I kind of like the idea of text messanging at clubs as it's really difficult to communicate any other way. (at least for me)

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Josh

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from: irilyth
date: May. 5th, 2003 03:17 pm (UTC)
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I don't go to clubs much (ok, ever), so I guess I wouldn't know. (grin) At last year's LISA conference, we found wireless laptops very handy for making lunch plans with a group of people scattered around the conference. Yeah, we could've pre-arranged to meet somewhere, but this was much more geekishly cool.

Text messaging with someone who's standing right next to you seems geekishly dorky to me, but I'm the one who never goes to clubs, so I guess I shouldn't talk. :^) I do like the idea of being able to notice when someone you know is nearby, even if you can't see them, though.

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