For about a year and a half, I’ve been mulling over an idea that involves tracking ideas as they move across the web. I posted that idea here. I’ve talked to programmers and various other folks. Responses have ranged from deep enthusiasm to a shrug.
Basically, a web application with social networking interface would allow anyone to create or pass on a message or document, and one could note participation in a project in a way that the breadth (number of participants), depth (degrees of separation), speed (number of people added in particular time periods) and span (geographic spread) of the idea would be traceable across the web through the display of detailed relationship hierarchy or lineage trees displaying the branching of the idea through the web. A reports function would allow an ability to run comparisons of ideas across the web. The structure of idea emergence, distribution and evolution could be examined.
Portions of this programming are up and running (click here) in the PJEP.org website, where online boycotts, petitions, eletters and fundraisers are traced across the various participating users.
It just struck me that this idea might make sense in the context of a Twitter or Twitter-like application. Programmer Dave Larson mentioned that designing the application to work on cell phones might make sense. What about designing it for cell phones exclusively, except when examining relationship lineage, and running reports to provide an overview?
A cell phone user would send a message of 300 digits or less. The receiver would choose to pass on that message, as is, with an addendum of 140 digits or less, broadcasted to his or her group as in Twitter. The beginning message is stored in the original user’s social networking page, along with the potentially very long string of addendums.
The original message is tagged.
When a message is received, it notes how many degrees removed the receiver is from the original message along with the gross number participating, speed and number of zips. For example: 9/455/1.91/65. With that information, the receiver can see how powerful the message is.
Clicking on the message, the receiver can travel to the originator’s social networking page and view the complete lineage display along with the words each person has added to the message.
When a person receives a message with the originator’s words, that person can view the last three messages added by people participating in the chain before adding his or her own words and passing on the message.
At any point in the process, a receiver of a message can push the “evolve” button, adding a tag to the communication and rephrasing the original message, rebranding it, continuing the lineage tree.
On the website, tags and messages can be examined, compared and evaluated regarding the power of different tags and messages to compel activity across the system. Individual people can be noted as particularly powerful originators of ideas or disseminators of other people’s ideas.
This feels interesting to me. What do you think?