A Proposed Commercial Application of Social Technology

Note:   This post comes from one of the old hand-coded HTML pages.  The page was one of very few on this site that was written by two people trying hard to collaborate.  Since this page was written that small team has proved rather sterile, which has (if nothing else) stimulated the development of new social technology for making possible collaboration between people who only occasionally work well together.  Details of this will appear on another web page, currently under-construction CASA

Computer Assisted Social Activity

A Proposal for an Internet-Based Venture.

This proposal is for a new Internet-based venture, to provide online support for social activities while collecting valuable data, using an entirely new type of software.

CASA , for Computer Assisted Social Activity , is a new type of software that supports personality and compatibility estimation, intended to help people form a strong network of social contacts and to support social activity within that network.

It will collect personality and interest data through questionnaires, and from other sources, then suggest online and real-world social connections and activities, as well as goods, services, and entertainment.  Ongoing user feedback and other data will be gathered for continual improvement of CASA advice.

All types of social connection will be facilitated, including friends, lovers, job hunting, help wanted, business contacts, entrepreneurial partners, investors, mentors, teachers, and more.  “It’s not what you know, but who you know” that makes you influential.  With CASA, everyone can be influential!

CASA as a Business Opportunity

It makes no sense for people to continue making social connections in the current haphazard way, depending on chance meetings in grocery stores, bumping into people on the street, or talking to them in the elevator.  The probability of such chance encounters leading to close relationships is low, and most of the resulting relationships are unsatisfactory.  This proposal is for a true solution to that problem, one in which good data and powerful algorithms replace the accidental meetings.

Almost all businesses on the Internet collect data.  Ours will concentrate on creating accurate general-purpose user profiles, accurately performing social network analysis, and then assisting people in becoming more and better integrated into society by providing valid and helpful suggestions.  Even user dissatisfaction with suggestions will be solicited as feedback to help tune user profiles. The online environment will adapt to the user, not the reverse.

Unlike self-help programs which encourage people to change, this system will allow people to make good relationships while being themselves.  Personal growth will come as a byproduct of life improvement, rather than the other way around.  As life unfolds, CASA will continue to collect feedback and social network data to adequately capture their new lives and acquired tastes, and therefore keeping these users returning again and again for new suggestions.

This positive solution to an age old problem will effect human lives immeasurably, but will also be very profitable.   The software described here is under construction, but needs investor support for completion, to advertise the new web service, and for hardware to support that service.

CASA is a generic name for this new type of software, and will also be used in this proposal as a temporary name for the new product and the web service it will provide, but they can be given any name that might suit an investor’s needs.   All marketing plans included in this proposal can be adapted to meet the needs of sponsors or investors.

Business Use of the Data

The initial collection of personality and interest data will have many other applications including marketing and public opinion research.  Social network data about the links between people will add precise information about a population, to replace the pseudo-demographic information often used in market studies.

Together with the personality and interest data, the social network data will become a uniquely comprehensive set of psycho-social information, much more valuable than the usual vague, general, and impersonal data more commonly used.  It is the acquisition and utilization of this unprecedentedly precise data that will distinguish this business from all others.

With appropriate precautions, some of this data may be sold to external users, but it may be more profitable to use it internally by accepting market research and public opinion polling contracts.  Such research would make easy use of the existing data, and would also expand and enhance the CASA data base.

Social Relationships

The services provided will cover many kinds of relationships:

  • new friends
  • love, romance, sex…
  • roommates, house mates, domestic partnership…
  • e-penpals, matched by interest,
  • matching for peak efficient communication,
  • matching for optimum empathy,
  • matching for maximal productivity, tangible or intellectual
  • co-workers, matched to communicate, brainstorm, work together
  • all manner of effective and compatible matched teams and work groups
  • matching to offer/receive the life guidance of a mentor.
  • employment: anonymous job hunting/ help wanted, qualified leads.
  • entrepreneurship: Matching up business partners to start new ventures.
  • matching to Venture Capitalists, too!
  • activity partners — sports, crafts, etc.
  • Politics, Activism, research, projects
  • scientific investigation, arts, performance, social events
  • and so much more.

This breadth of application is also important for collecting good data and providing better service to users.  Highly specialized services such as marriage minded match-making cannot build up a user-base of people who trust the service; because if it works, the user no longer needs the service; and if it doesn’t trust will be lost forever.  Helping each user to find all applicable relationships will be an ongoing process, and a relationship of trust can easily be built up.

Matching People to Goods and Services

The same software used for matching people to one another can also be used to match people with products and services, using  much the same data.  With this service, suppliers could do precision advertising, and sales would be right on target and even desirable(!), a welcome change for the consumer used to the omnipresence of the random deluge of mostly inappropriate advertisement.

Currently advertising must be kept entertaining rather than informative so as not to annoy, or it risks becoming the hit or miss nuisance advertising we see so much of today.  CASA can change all that, and so will earn lucrative marketing referral commissions.  The system will also be deployed directly for online sales of our own.

Initially this business will obtain the usual display advertising revenue that funds many Internet sites, but soon will be able to offer some of the same advertisers much more effective direct advertising to specific people.  It is essential to retain the trust of our users, who must not receive much unwanted material, but within that constraint it will be possible to offer precision advertising to sponsors.

Compared with matching people to other people, matching people to products is easy.  The products don’t have to like you back!

Software Functionality

The core of this business is an entirely new kind of software with unique capabilities.  It is called CASA, which stands for Computer Assisted Social Activity.  That should be a generic term for the type of software, but for now it will be treated as the name of the program itself.  It’s primary purpose is to help users include more compatible people in their social life and develop strong relationships with them.

At the core of CASA is a powerful estimator for compatibility, programmed to improve estimates with ongoing feedback from users.  These estimates are turned into suggestions by a matching mechanisms based on combinatorial optimization.  Regardless of the term optimization, there will be no attempt to control or manipulate the user, who will only be prompted with suggestions.   Optimization just means “making things better” and with support from CASA the user will be able to make his or her own life much better indeed.

To be successful, CASA must create models or profiles of its users, and must safeguard user’s privacy and security.  The quality of these profiles will directly affect the quality of the suggestions being offered, so anything that can make the profiles more accurate will be considered.

Data will be acquired in many ways, so CASA must include support for data manipulation, storage, visualization, and access.  Several mathematical techniques will be used to condition data prior to use.  Most of this must be automated to allow for large numbers of users, but having many users also allows sophisticated data correction algorithms to be used.

This data is then turned into a profile, and put through the estimator and matcher, generating suggestions.  The user’s feedback about those suggestions can then be used to refine the profile, perhaps generating queries about some of the data.  Advanced mathematical methods such as Kalman filtering can be used to model the user as a dynamic process, incorporating elements of personal growth and maturation.

CASA OnLine

CASA will collect data from individuals and make suggestions, but it can also support online interaction between people.  There is a growing use of online chat rooms, and a declining use of telephone chat lines (dial in telephone conference bridges).  There are also hybrids and new variations, some with added cartoons, called “avatar communities”. And there is the explosion of Sprint PCS mobile phones with Wireless Internet.

Such functionality can be integrated into CASA, so that CASA will remove the one element of chat rooms and chat lines that limits their appeal, the unwanted and annoying person who won’t go away.  That will also widen the appeal of chat rooms for those who are left cold by small talk, by providing stimuli that will engender topics of conversation known to be of interest for the matched chatroom population.

On the basis of user profiles, CASA could filter out the unwanted people, and could go one step further and create a chat room where those unwanted people would be accepted.  The same approach could be used in conjunction with a number of other Internet activities, such as USENET newsgroups and mailing lists, either by subscription management or building those capabilities into CASA.

The ability to coordinate multiple users permits rapid turnaround, with people supplying input continuously as they navigate the Internet, with personal profiles being updated as they go.  Such fast online action is not new in itself, but probably goes beyond the human ability to adapt to social circumstances.  With CASA’s help people could experience the freedom and confidence they have on their home turf, with friends, while actually interacting with new people.

Data Acquisition

To start with CASA uses questionnaires carefully designed to collect information useful for matching people.  As well as questions about personality and interest, the system may use other data, such as personal address books and browser bookmarks, if the user permits access to that information.

Through providing services over a period of time, CASA will allow data to be queried and corrected in an interactive process, and will also be able to improve its own capabilities by using corrections, feedback, and new questionnaires.

By providing many different forms of matching, CASA will continue to provide services to a user over a long period of time, during which the amount and quality of data collected can continue to grow.  Supporting a user in this way over a period of time collects what is called longitudinal data, which just means data collected over a long period of time — the hardest to obtain and the most valuable.

Users will be encourage to supply a lot of information and permit access to data stored on their machines.  As the users will be told, “The more you tell us, the more we can tell you!”  Later, when search engine and online shopping services are added, the system may use search keywords and purchase records, again, in so far as the user permits access to them.

SNOW:  Social Network Optimization Works

As rewarding as the online Internet experience can be, the most important function of CASA is help in reworking the end user’s own personal neighborhood in the social network.  Sociologists and anthropologists use the term social network to describe the interconnection of people by different social relationships.

Social network analysis is a recognized application of sociology, and large corporations sometimes employ consultants to perform social network analysis on their network of employees.  Optimization is the next step after analysis, and is usually done manually by corporate management after the consultant’s report is received, probably because management insists on exercising that power.

CASA will improve the social network by suggesting stronger connections and checking connectivity.  CASA therefore includes functions for social network analysis and limited optimization under user control.  Essentially this adds network connectivity to each definition of compatibility, to accomplish more than merely creating isolated and insular cliques connected only internally.

What is Compatibility?

No single definition of compatibility will be used in CASA, since there must be at least as many versions of compatibility as there are social relationship types.  Again, the system will initially use questionnaires carefully designed to collect information useful for matching people — different questionnaires for different kinds or purposes of compatibility.  All will be refined through continual feedback.

In general, compatibility will be estimated by carefully weighing similarities and differences, using the results of social surveys where appropriate.  Similarities of interest, social class, religion, and level of education, are generally good signs of compatibility.

But people who want to take the lead in some area of their lives should not be matched to people with the same desire.  Or else there will inevitably be friction.  That also applies to people who need to claim the same piece of territory in their common environment. Thus certain differences are also crucial to compatibility, as are similarities.

Matching according to such rules is complicated, but probably more reliable that depending on users to specify what they want.  Whether it is an employer telling a corporate headhunter what kind of new employee he wants, or a man describing the kind of woman who interests him, people are just not very good at it.

People are not good at understanding or stating what they want from another person.  And that applies to most of the social relationships listed above.  CASA will be able to utilize such information (along with all the other data) if the user cares to provide it, and can even take it literally, if the user insists.  But it is better used as yet another clue to the user’s personality.

Rather than simply accepting user specifications, CASA will cooperate interactively with users to help them develop requirements that will be meaningful.  The same capability would then be useful in developing their own personal descriptions, as an aid to personal growth, self help and education.  Thus CASA can also support each person as an individual, regardless of all inter-personal uses.

Pool Size and Compatibility Levels

Growth of the user-base is essential for increasing returns on investment, and equally so for providing good service.  Just as an insurance plan works better if it has a large pool of subscribers, any attempt to match people will work better if it has a large pool of candidates.

Indeed, pool size is central to a scale for describing the quality of social relationships.  It is a logarithmic scale like the Richter scale for earthquakes, or the Beaufort scale for winds.

This scale describes the average compatibility you would expect to have if you were able select the best out of a certain number of candidates.  It uses base-10 logarithms, but for most purposes you just need to count the zeros.   There are 3 zeros in 1000, so the best 1 in 1000 is said to be Level 3. That’s a common level of compatibility for ordinary friendships.

Level 6 would be the best 1 in 1,000,000 and would describe a very unusual level of compatibility.  Of course you could not actually evaluate a million candidates, but it still makes sense as a way of specifying a level of compatibility.

Since this is a logarithmic scale, Level 6 is not just twice as compatible as Level 3, just as an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale, is not just twice as severe as one measuring 3 on the same scale.  How could we describe Level 6 compatibility?  Perhaps meeting such a person would shake up your life like the corresponding earthquake.

CASA is intended to help each of us find near-perfect, Level-6, 1-in-a-million, compatibility for ALL of the kinds of social relationships listed above, and more. It can only do that if the pool size, the number of participants, is one million or more.  That is easily obtainable online, and for people who only want online or e-mail relationships that number would suffice.

Considering that people can move, can use telecommuting to work, and can make other adaptations if a relationship is good enough to warrant them, that number would indeed suffice. But for more local relationships there is no substitute for a large number of participants in a smaller area, like a city.

Expansion Strategy

Any promising business is created with expansion in mind. CASA will enter into most services that can exploit user-profile data and generate valuable new data in the process.

High quality data about people is a precious resource which can be exploited in many ways. Concentrating on services that not only use such data but generate more of it will allow an aggressive penetration of several service sectors, with an excellent chance of coming to dominate them quickly.

An obvious target is the increasingly competitive search engine sector.  Precise user profiles can be used to produce search results much more useful than any current search engine can offer. Instead of simply returning a lot of matches to the given keywords, based only on the words themselves, the user profile could be used to priorize those matches which are most pertinent according to the known user profile.

Having a search engine running would also provide access to the overall network of web pages, which can be analyzed using the same software CASA uses for social network analysis.  The resulting web-site profiles will be almost as useful as profiles of individual users, and for much the same reasons.  Keeping track of what people search for and which hits they choose to pursue will also add a new dimension to user profiles.  Thus CASA can achieve the Holy Grail of Information Filtering, functioning as the long predicted personal user information filter that selects for you exactly what you want to see, without forcing you to specify it in detail.

Analogous targets include newsgroups and mailing lists, which can be mapped, profiled, and recommended to users, a service not currently available anywhere online.  If such recommendations are presented as clickable links on a web pages, then the click-through can be used as feedback to estimate user interests in those areas, and further improve our user profiles.

In general, this business will be able to expand in a natural way, offering more and more services, by utilizing the user-profile data to deliver new services or better results than any existing services in those areas. All such expansion will increase the amount of retained knowledge as well as the opportunities for revenue.

CASA for Human Resources

Expansion will require new people, which is a serious matter, since ultimately it is the human resources that make a business succeed or fail.  Software and faster hardware will need to be added, marketing will need to be done, and the whole process will need additional management.

Unless planned carefully, such expansion is dangerous, and finding good people is often a problem these days since the rapid expansion of the Internet has outstripped the ability of universities to train qualified people.  Having a pool of well profiled users will make it easy to find the people, and to ensure that they are compatible with one another, and will work well together.

In short, the services to be provided can also be used to make this business a success.  That will continue to be true as new services are added and the business expands to dominate parts of the industry that do not have access to the high quality data it collects.

Marketing

CASA must not only support its users, but provide support for marketing.  To obtain a large user-base it is important to establish this business as a known brand name, through a process known as the “The Branding Spiral”.

The CASA website will offer continually changing content and promotions, to keep users returning to the CASA website to steadily expand and update their data.

Free online newsletters, updates and such, optimally customized by CASA, will be used to alert users to new matches and ever changing content at the site.  Online and real-world social activities will be announced, discussed, and rated.  Many new quirky and fun activities and projects will be supported, to catch media attention, including:

  • brainstorming
  • think tanks
  • salons
  • cyberfiction
  • video games
  • shared 3-D White Boards for collaborative Kinetic Art
  • collaborative creation in art and music
  • specialized chat rooms for unusual people.
  • an aspiring screen writing workshop and contest,
  • networking for bargain hunters,
  • nerd resistance cells against cliques of petty malicious bullies,
  • and more, for groups of well-matched people to have fun and bond.

Marketing Affiliate Program

CASA will easily identify and solicit qualified prospective Marketing Affiliates by personality profile, even without prior work experience.  This includes chatroom junkies, prospective local Computer Telephony Chatline franchisees, and local public speakers in different contexts, who will all be offered personal webpages and voice mailboxes customized to their needs.

CASA matching and Social Network Optimization will also assemble downlines for compatibility, efficiency, and productivity, for Multilevel or Network Marketing.  Or, to put it another way, CASA will easily optimize the social network for MLM as an after thought to every other purpose.  CASA social activity and event suggestion will also be utilized to help the Affiliates have fun promoting local access.

A common cliche is to say that any given product or service ‘will sell itself’.  CASA might be the first to literally live up to such a claim.  CASA is designed with the social network in mind, and includes functionality intended to forge new links between people, making that network stronger. CASA thus already tends to spread itself to other users.

Social Needs and Compatibility Services

A myriad of special services are in the works to meet special social needs,  and will also do much to help Affiliates in marketing and promoting CASA:

CASA must address the immediate social needs of prospective new users.  Affiliates will introduce CASA to friends, associates and acquaintances to begin logging in, playing with CASA, downloading software, and filling out questionnaires, so that CASA can begin to offer suggestions pertinent to those relationships, at least for activities and potential common interests. Or, best of all, a perfect suggested new unmet friend in common to help balance imperfect existing relationships.  Because, often the very similarities that draw people together may make them badly incompatible.

Social environment optimization is particularly important for mitigating the short comings of stable and close relationships that are never the less defenseless from the world, and even counterproductive, because similar compatible partners may magnify weaknesses and faults in common.  And help may be unavailable or dysfunctionally networked.

Even a shared sex partner may be discreetly suggested by CASA, if and as indicated by the data.  This is an area requiring great discretion, and is mentioned more as an indication of just how well CASA can perform and the degree of trust CASA will elicit from users, but it could be done if users want or need.

Growth Potential

Local user base growth, in every area, will become very important to the end user.  This point will be hammered home by ongoing CASA promotion.  To start with, users will be educated about pool size and it’s importance, including all the explanation of compatibility levels given above.  This will be only the first step in an ongoing process making use of existing social contexts as well as standard marketing techniques.

To use existing social connections we need only to ask people about the others in their life, explaining that the best way to find the best matches for a given person will be to use social context information as well as all the personality and interest stuff.  People must be allowed to refuse, and should also be able to keep the identities of their social contacts hidden, but we can indeed give better service if they tell us about those people, identify them, or both.

If they do identify their social contexts, we can then target those people directly.  We must of course respect the privacy of our original users, and not pass their evaluations on to the people they evaluate, but with that guarantee, it is still a resource for drawing new users.  And this will be the lead in to our Affiliate Program.

End users will be informed about the need for enlarging our pool of  potential matches and especially  for enlarging local data bases, for optimal combinatorial matches face to face, until they are as good as the ones they will already be experiencing long distance.  Thus CASA’s online success will be utilized to motivate good local word of mouth and expansion, as well as Nationally and Internationally, via the Net.

As an immediate incentive, integrated into the system, to keep the end user answering questions and coming back for more, an immediate return for supplying information about themselves will be access to many pages, online, of detailed information supplied by similar people, including their worst mistakes, greatest successes (all suitably anonymized), tastes, preferences, and almost anything else.  This growing data base will also be invaluable as consumer information for marketing.

These people, well matched to share information in this way, will actually be incompatible and even volatile for direct communication, as often happens, because they will tend to be too much alike.  Instead, they will each be matched with others, for those all important complementary dissimilarities crucial to a good compatible match.

CASA Service Portal

This business will have a website serving as a portal, or entry point, where the user will find many services and links to other sites.  The most obvious of these services are suggestions of books to read, movies to watch, places to visit, events and gatherings to attend, food to eat, wine to drink, goods, services, and so on.

Some of that functionality is available in existing online services, such as online bookstores which suggest books based on what you’ve bought in the past, but such narrow focus makes them less reliable.  Better to suggest books based on all that data, including one’s taste in books, but also one’s taste in movies, places, events, food, wine, and so on.

CASA will make all this possible, and perform much better because of it.  All the other data, aside from reading preference, may, on the face of it, seem irrelevant to suggesting books, but that’s just not so — because lifestyle influences everything.

Good detailed personality profiles, functioning computer models of peoples personalities, interest, education, etc. will make it possible to suggest all sorts of things, any and all things — online things like newsgroups and mailing lists, and everything that can be imagined offline.

Access for All

It is anticipated that most people in the network-neighborhood of a person will not be CASA users, and many won’t even be online.  To reach such people CASA must provide many forms of access.

CASA will be accessed by a user-chosen designation and password, not by account, workstation, phone line, or ISP username, so a person can use CASA on another person’s machine or any computer or telephone they can use, anywhere they find it.

Internet access is now commonly available from home, at work, at school, and from various places that allow access anyone who walks in off the street, such as public libraries and Cyber Cafes. Even people with no e-mail account will be able to access CASA from one of those places, though now free e-mail is available from Hotmail and others.

The CASA website will also offer free email accounts, anonymous email forwarding, and web email boxes, as a way of attracting users.  But even without such additional identity shielding services, all CASA users will still be effectively anonymous within the system.

With Computer Telephony, the system will also be accessible by phone, and even feature Voice Mail, Paging, and Conference Bridges (chat lines).  There will even be a Telephonic/Internet hybrid interface for Sprint PCS, a growing market segment, and TDY for the deaf.

Questionnaires will be Touch Tone Voice Menu or even Voice Interactive, with optional emotional response input using Voice Stress Analysis, or custom FAX back text questionnaires. FAX-on-Demand answers consisting of checked boxes, return FAXed, will input to the system by Optical Character Recognition.  Even Cable TV boxes and Video Game Systems will also be adapted for CASA input.

CASA at HOME

CASA will provide a number of other services, some just to be more useful, some to encourage people to supply data, some as education, and some purely as entertainment.  Some of that functionality may be better provided by software on the user’s own machine instead of an online service, though both are possible.

A version of CASA for home or office computer use will be marketed, to run locally on one’s own computer or network.  The software will also be designed to connect to the online CASA website, and even other home or corporate CASA software users.

A system for Computer Assisted Social Activity should actually assist people with social activity of the more mundane sort.  Therefore CASA will be capable of serving as an address book, scheduler, and so on, but more intuitively and interactively. Integrated will be Unified Messaging, including email, FAX, voice mail, and more, all remote accessible.

Remote access software already exists, to enable people on the road to fully use their desktop computers and networks by remote control, via other computers, particularly their laptops, even when they are away or traveling.  And other software schedulers and email clients are abundant, even as freeware.  But the better CASA can help, the more it will be used, and from our perspective the more data to be mined.

As before access to this data may be restricted by the user, but again, “The more you tell us the more we tell you!”, and the better the software can learn to respond to the user.  CASA can also operate more intuitively and with greater versatility than other programs supporting remote access, having access to the user’s software preferences and special needs.

There are many other possibilities for CASA @HOME, some of which are quite sophisticated and could therefore command a high price and/or generate large sales figures.  CASA @HOME may be designed to support:

  • Voice Interactive
  • autodialing ordinary or Internet telephone calls,
  • a built in personal phone book with compatibility hints,
  • voice recognition to identity a caller,
  • voice stress analysis to detect evasions or lying,
  • intonation and enunciation analysis to identify a caller’s dialect,
  • Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech, keyed to dialect preference
  • word processing functions by voice control,
  • compatibility with all your existing text tools, input and communication
  • dictionary and thesaurus keyed to dialect preference in your profile,
  • spell-checking, grammar-checking, pronunciation-checking, as above,
  • graphic representation of social networks,
  • network detective work, such as finding child-support fugitives,
  • e-mail broadcast to selected regions of your social network graph,
  • and so on … much more is possible

CASA Network

One CASA enabled computer can be configured to cooperate with other CASA machines, sending requests for information and digesting what comes in.  Enhanced or professional versions of CASA, CASA @WORK, with such network functionality and more, will be marketed at a high price to professionals fields where it will come in high demand.

Interoperation and remote access, will even facilitate web service on a dynamic IP, without the added expense and problems associated with a static IP, an entirely unprecedented feature. CASA will therefore offer it’s own hierarchy of domain names, using the same technology by which chat tools differentiate users, handles and passwords, though they’ll look like our own special hierarchy of domain names.

While leaving plenty of short catchy domain names up for grabs by our valued customers, we will, however, reserve all the most potentially valuable domain names of major Name Brands, Fortune 500 Companies, celebrities, and the like, for lucrative re$ale later, after CASA catches on.

Access to this CASA network for the general public will be through a compatible freeware JAVA Applet or browser plug-in with more limited functionality.  The JAVA Applet version will be downloadable, again each time, for WebTV and other Net computers with no local disk drives to store even so much as a browser plug-in.

For convenience and to further promote the brand name, the plug-in will appear as a prominent CASA button on your browser tool bar. Eventually we could market a complete browser with such functionality included.  By that time CASA will be offering a search engine with user-profile enhanced searches.  The combination of a CASA search engine and a CASA browser would be unusually powerful, especially when coupled with the network of CASA @HOME and CASA @WORK machines.

Since our user profiles include expertise, it would be a simple matter to direct user queries to another user with the appropriate expertise and a known willingness to help others.

The network of CASA users can be extended to include telephone and Citizen’s Band radio users, without a computer. Computer Telephony will even be upgradable to support local CASA access franchise, with Voice Menu and FAX-on-Demand interface.  Thus, Corporate customers and Entrepreneurs will be wooed to become CASA local access franchisees.

Entertainment and Education

A more domestic and less serious use of CASA would be for educational and entertainment purposes. CASA @HOME software can facilitate not only actual social activity with real people, but also rehearsal or play, in video simulation.

CASA’s abilities to manipulate profiles of people can be used in simulation rehearsal for real life. This can be done by creating plausible interactive virtual profiles from social survey data.  Such functionality, catering to an intense interest in peer socializing, could also be presented as entertainment, something like a video game, which may be of interest to girls and young women — a market not well served by current shoot’em up video-games.

Whether seen as a game or a serious application, the mass of social survey data available and the generally question-and-answer format makes possible a simulation which can provide a very good rehearsal, allowing people to plan social activity and anticipate what form it might take.

It will also help young people learn about themselves, try out various social roles, and see what real life may be like.   They will have fun doing it, and that will go along way towards making CASA a success.

CASA and Social Change

Using CASA, users will gradually improve their social lives and the social network around them, reinventing society, creating a society that will work better for them.  Within a short time they will find online or e-mail relationships, and that will help, because even online friends can help people make decisions and live a better life.

Among those decisions will be real-world social contacts and further use of CASA functionality. As CASA spreads, users in large cities will meet compatible people face-to-face, and users in smaller regions can get involved through visits to nearby cities.

With the aid of CASA and their new online friends they will have the opportunity to build themselves a close-knit network of real-world contacts, including good friends, a compatible spouse, a good job, and all the other social relationships listed above. Each user will thus become embedded in a self-sustaining group of compatible individuals.

That will improve almost every other aspect of their lives. Indeed, compatible relationships can even help people make better decisions.  People who repeatedly err on opposite sides of the correct answers in quizes, for example, have been found to make surprisingly correct estimates together, and to exercise improved judgment.

The experience of working with such a complementary partner even inculcates in each person improved judgment individually, over time, as they gain the ability to anticipate what their counterpart would have said, and can make the necessary compromise themselves.

There are also therapeutic psychological consequences.    For example, with a near-perfect specific-purpose match for empathy, some of the goals of Transactional Analysis (TA) are easily achieved.   In the TA terms, the therapeutic value of Positive Transference can be achieved with neither the obstacle of Negative Transference nor the expense of psychiatric bills.

There must certainly be many other social, psychological, and economic consequences, more than we can imagine, and few if any will be negative ones, since finding close social relationships of all kinds for all people can only be good.   The ability of well-matched people to make better decisions and work better together, and the ability to find jobs or successfully start up their own businesses, will surely have positive economic consequences in the developed countries where most of our market will be.

Developing countries will soon follow, perhaps helped by an initiative by SocialTechnology.ca to take similar social  technology to places where computers, networks, and even telephones are rare.   If that initiative succeeds, a billion or so people may be affected, and as their lives get better they may join the developed world and be easily integrated into it, through the use of CASA and  the new software and services developed from it.

All of this comes from improving human connectivity, making the social network stronger, using CASA to bring together people who belong together.

Human connectivity is everything.  In short, if only the right people cross our paths, lighten our hearts, open our eyes, minds, and doors before our paths, all can be right with us all.

Contact people:

Technical matters — Douglas P. Wilson Until recently the above line was followed simply by:

Business matters  — Aaron Agassi agassi@erols.com

Aaron Agassi has his own quite remarkable web-site , which illustrates both the amazing fertility of his mind and what can go wrong when a talented ideas-person tries to interact with the real world.  On that site you will find Mr. Agassi’s own version of this proposal , which adds his own technological fantasies to the collaboratively-written material on this page.

Copyright © 2000  Douglas P. Wilson and Aaron Agassi agassi@erols.com
— annotations on the orginal page in a different text colour were by Mr. Agassi.  The rest of the text was written by Doug Wilson, after he received a few suggestions from his nominal collaborator.

Additional text Copyright © 2002  Douglas P. Wilson

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