The Tipping Point or The Hundredth Monkey .com

FROM: Jim O'Connor

What NEED does this meet?
Many people would like to help their world or community in some way, such as by using public transport instead of driving, or contributing to a charity, or helping in a local scheme, or voting for a certain political party, or protesting against something, BUT, they know that doing so on their own without massive numbers of other people also following the same course of action would be a waste of time and/or effort and/or money.

In this way, even though large numbers of people would like to do something, enough to make a difference, they never do it due to the absence of some mechanism by which they can co-ordinate their activities.

What is the APPROACH?
This site would help by allowing people to pledge to carry out one of the actions above (or something else) IF a certain number of other people do the same. They will enter the pledge, or pick an existing one and specify the threshold number of other people that they would require to also make the same pledge before they would be prepared to actually carry it out.

The system would hold all the pledges, email addresses and thresholds in a standard database and when the threshold was reached for a particular pledge/group of people, it would email all the people to let them know so that they can begin carrying out the action.

The system would need a database, a bit of math and an intelligent way of categorising pledges so that people can find the one they are looking for. Some pledges would be global, some local.

The site could also contain sections with expert analyses outlining how many people would be required to carry out some course of action to make it beneficial. This would allow people to make an intelligent choice of threshold for any particular pledge.

To answer the question, I think the approach is distinctive not only because it could co-ordinate any conceivable beneficial activity but because it will allow everyone to set their own personal threshold level. You could, for example, say I will begin to "recycle household waste in the London area" but only if 2 million other Londoners also do it. You don't then have to begin recycling until 2 million other people also agree to do it - and of course if that many people did agree to do it then the government would be forced to make recycling in London much easier than it is now. So by setting the threhold figure you are basically stipulating a level of inconvenience that you are willing to experience.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
More participation in beneficial activities as people know they are not doing it alone and therefore wasting their time and/or money.

I remember once reading something by Noam Chomsky in which he said that if one person were to make the decision to use public transport instead of driving to work they would put themselves at great inconvenience and therefore lose out, but if everyone were to do it together then the extra investment would allow such an improvement in services that we would all get to work in half the time and in greater comfort. BUT, it needs everyone to do it together for the benefit to arise. This is the type of thing that the site will facilitate. Co-ordinated action. He said it had something to do with Game Theory.

What is the COMPETITION?
I don't know.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The system would need a database, a bit of math and an intelligent way of categorising pledges so that people can find the one they are looking for.

System would be pretty cheap I think. Some bright student could probably knock up a prototype in a couple of days.

Would need an administrator.

November 2, 2003 in Connecting People, Helping Your Community, Matching System, NGO Tools, Pledge Banks, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Affordable First Home

FROM: Simon Demler

What NEED does this meet?
Currently it is very difficult for people starting off in life to be in a financial position to purchase there own home.

What is the APPROACH?
The housing market in the UK is differentiated in terms of cost not by quality of housing but mainly by location. Basically the same style of house can be different in price because it is in an undesirable location.

I propose to make use of the fact that there are currently many inner suburbs that suffer from a lack of residents, which are empty.

I propose a type of co-operative where people register there interest in getting onto the property ladder in a particular city. When there are enough people interested the project can start off.

A request for a deposit is sent out. This would be cashed into a charity based account for the particular residents group involved.

An election for a set of jobs would then be held amongst the people making up the group. Each job would be defined by a charter that everyone has signed up to. I imagine that these jobs would be comprised of the following:

Bank negotiator – this person would be responsible for approaching a set of banks, basically stating that a group of 50 people are looking for 50 mortgages. The idea would be for the banks to compete to obtain the block of business.

Town Planning City council negotiator – this person would be responsible to talking to the council to get approval for a block purchase of a fairly empty residential street. They would also try and get some preliminary approval for a set of improvements to the housing on the street selected.

Amenities city council negotiator – this person would approach the council to get some council support perhaps for some street improvements, security cameras etc. After all the council should be in favour of some inner city regeneration.

Security negotiator – one of the main issues I see with the whole concept is peoples reluctance to move in wholesale to a dodgy area. This could be mitigated by a group security officer. He would be responsible for arranging a neighbourhood watch style arrangement of perhaps the appointment of a security officer.

Once these elections were held on the web site. The elected officers would meet and proceed to negotiate the site. People would then have to financially commit by signing up to the mortgage on offer. Each person would own there own dwelling but would be committed to a process of renovation. This last point is important as it would be necessary to improve the abandoned housing to get it up to a decent standard there by increasing the capital gain in the property.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
There are large benefits involved in this type of scheme. 1. Cheap housing. 2. A potentially large increase in capital gain as people would want to move in to the area. 3. A community of like minded people. 4. Potential for large increase in capital gain.

What is the COMPETITION?
I highly doubt it - this scheme is basically adapting a 70's style commune idea and moving it into the 21st century there by supplying a need that is being extremely neglected.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Money would be required to build a community style web site that supports elections, maps of locations of possible sites. Security for the web site would be important. DEvelopment of the charter for each elected officer would also be important as they would need to be guided.

October 31, 2003 in Connecting People, Empowering Consumers, Pledge Banks | Permalink | Comments (7)