activating the hypothetical

Applications have been emerging that enable us to activate the hypothetical. For example, Fundable lets people pledge payments for new ventures, and once enough pledges are collected, translates them into payments that are sent to the venture's organizer. The venture simply hangs out in a hypothetical space until it either expires or has enough backing to actualize itself. Similarly, [insert name of app I can't seem to remember] enables people to pledge their willingness to participate in a political demonstration around some issue, and once enough pledges have been made, notifies pledgers that it's time to hit the streets. Again, the demonstration hangs out in the hypothetical until it has a critical mass of demonstrators. (And indeed there's great potential for activating the hypothetical, perhaps anonymously, in politics.)

So, I wanna nuance this a little bit. Take social events. Why we go to one event instead of another is largely based on who else is going – are any of my friends gonna be there? What's the male/female ratio? This makes social calendaring awesome, because you can see who is (and isn't) going, and it makes the 'Maybe Attending' option even awesomer, because you can see who's sitting on the fence. But the fence is so ambiguous and there are so many folks sitting on it, that it doesn't really help you make a decision either way. Here's where some nuancing could add value. Instead of RSVPing with a mere maybe, give the system some conditions for saying yes, e.g. you'll attend if at least 8 of your FB friends are also attending, or if the ratio of male/female is between 0.9-1.1. If conditions are satisfied, the system changes your RSVP to “Attending,” notifies you of the change, and accounts for its effect on other peoples’ conditions. The mass of maybes goes from being a dead sea to an active solution, with yeses precipitating out.

Applied to new ventures and political demonstrations and elsewhere, just imagine what might be sitting in solution, and what could precipitate out...

No comments: