I was thinking recently about the top 3 problems left to solve online – the things I still find myself needing and not having a good solution for.
- I want to spend more time with people offline (and I want an online tool to help me do this). This has been a desire for a long time. Over ten years ago (I believe it was in 2001) I wrote the following on a (nostalgic) about page:
Computers are a weak substitute for human interaction. It is my firm belief that our society is converging towards a fear and avoidance of face to face contact. I am a front runner in this convergence. Being here, realizing the problem, and having the potential to do something is my daily realization, not having done anything yet is my daily disappointment. People will not stop using technology, they will only do it more and more. Online communities must be aimed at promoting real physical interaction, not at replacing it. This is what I should be doing.
That still reads fairly accurately. Facebook is essentially the opposite of what I want. FourSquare, Google Latitude, etc do some interesting things – but there is no killer app in this space. I want to see my friends. People make people happy. I don’t know what form this will ultimately take, but it seems like a huge opportunity.
- What events are going on? Related to problem 1 is the fact that event listings are still so decentralized and hard to maneuver. I like going to interesting things – but often times I miss out because you still have to know the right people to get a facebook invite, or read the right mailing list. This could be vastly improved (and zvents, eventful, etc are interesting, but they aren’t it yet). I worked on a couple projects in this space (ThisBounces and then SirCalendar), but it remains an unsolved problem. See “Start-up idea: Why event search needs to be fixed.” In Boston I read the Phoenix Newspaper (seriously), and subscribed to CheapThrills. New York is somewhat better equipped with TheSkint, LinkedList, a bunch of meetup groups, couchsurfing forums, etc. But the fact remains – I regularly miss awesome things in my own city, and if I arrive to a new place for the weekend, I have no easy way of figuring out what to do.
- What is the best… everything? I live on ratings, love them, trust them. IMDB 7+ for movies, GoodReads 4+ for books, Yelp 4+ for restaurants, Amazon 4+ for products. This is a start – but we all know the pain of comparison shopping on Amazon: This one has 4 stars, but only 5 reviews, and this review reads a bit fishy. And while its getting big, Amazon certainly isn’t a generic rating system. I want to find out the best anything. In any category. With relative certainty. No specialties. Gimme!
Thoughts? Are these really the top 3 problems left to solve online?