1. letsboycottit.com

    Author: Robin Moore

    What NEED does this meet?

    In a globalised market we need a global tool for making our consumer power count, whether it is changing a corporation’s global policy or a small gripe about a local public service.

    A resource that not only helps us find sources of info about and sign-up to boycotts big and small, but also regularly communicates to the target company the number of people boycotting and what the company needs to do to stop the boycott.

    What is the APPROACH?

    A neutral network building tool that:
    a) lets people sign-up for or swap boycotts.
    b) at critical numbers of signatories an email/fax is sent to the press office of the company/organisation concerned notifying them of the number of people signed up to boycott them who are waiting to receive a response from them.

    So basically it is about creating change through strength in numbers and effective communication.

    Here is a first stab at the process, comments gratefully received –

    I’ve got a botcott I want to get support for, I enter into letsboycottit.com:
    - Who they are
    - Brief synopsis of Why I’m boycotting them – linking to another site if more info is required.
    - How I’m boycotting
    - what the company need to do to stop me boycotting them
    - their email address (customer service dept., embassy or press office – easily researched) .
    - my email address

    My boycott would be listed by brand/company name and location and when I sign up to other boycotts it is cross-promoted amazon style to other signatories i.e. ‘people who boycotted this are also boycotting Nestle, Esso etc..’

    Once 10 people are signed up the press office at the company get an email saying that 10 of us want to hear what they are going to do about the issue we want resolved. The process continues as per hearfromyourMP. If people on the list are satisfied by the response from the company (which is distributed to all boycotters via the site) they can take themselves off the boycott. The site could publish data on how quickly companies respond and resolve issues.

    This would work for big and small boycotts and creates a dialogue between the boycotters and the boycotted, making it stand apart from other boycott lists.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    From global corporations to small companies, our life is probably shaped more by the commercial and services sectors than by the government of the day (whose party they may well be funding;-). We can encourage these organisations to change through group action, for instance I would:
    * join a boycott of Asda (as they fund the Republicans).
    * hassle our council about why there’s no green recycling bag scheme in our area.
    * boycott HSBC because they gets staff you complain about to deal with your complaint.
    * boycott films with Tom Cruise as part of Boycott Scientology (and for reasons of taste;-)

    Without such a site the work involved in organising boycotts will remain prohibitive for most of us and we miss the opportunity for using this to change the small things that effect us everyday.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    There are numerous boycott lists, complaint sites for individuals and there is an overlap with pledgebank but I couldn’t find any generic tool targeted at bringing considerate consumers together and then communicating their issues to the company. Big boycotts can always create their own site but there is definitely a space for a site which helps create smaller ones.

    Obviously if anyone can suggest a better name… letsnotbuyit.com, helpmyboycott etc.. I’m not even sure that boycott is the best word as you could use a tool like this to make a group complaint about, for instance, your GPs surgery opening hours and you obviously can’t boycott your Doctor.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    While the detail of how the system functions needs more thought, at the core is the merging of functionality from systems mysociety.org have already created – pledgebank, writetothem and hearfromyourmp. Would be good to harvest mail addresses for major companies, embassies, public services (e.g. partner with howtocomplain.com?) and need to be cross checking boycotts as entered to stop multiple entries for the same companies/boycotts.

    The only difficulty I can foresee is that publishing the reasons for boycotts as input by third parties could lead to libel action against the site. We would need to get a legal opinion on this and whether to moderate or not.

  2. fantasy high street

    Author: Christian Walsh

    What NEED does this meet?

    Supporting small businesses and independent shops, local libraries, swimming pools, churches, post offices – whatever you think a fantasy high street should contain.

    What is the APPROACH?

    Let voters submit their favourite butchers, launderette or chinese take away and – through online voting – build a fantasy high street for your neighbourhood. They all have to be real and within an agreed postcode. The website will create a three dimensional representation of the high street using user photos and imaginative graphics (think Cluedo meets the film Dogsville).

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    It will showcase the best in local businesses through independent user reviews, allowing them to reallocate their resources that would otherwise have been spent on advertising. It also helps the public get to know what is good in their neighbourhood.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    None.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    Start small by focusing on a particular postcode and roll it out nationally afterwards. Using UGC may help in terms of images and content. The key will be getting the fantasy high street to look good and making sure the voting is fair and transparent. Being such a media friendly topic will generate a lot of PR.

  3. Web of top 50 risks people worldwide want to see reduced

    Author: Chris Macrae

    What NEED does this meet?

    This is a rough concept but an idea I have heard many people voice

    It would need a panel as well as a web. They would need to be seen as worldwide and contextual experts in justice but the job assigned to them would not be too onerous. For example, quarterly approve a batch of risk statements each to be added into its own communal thread. Where necessary edit the language of the risk goal to unite rather than divide everyone

    Typical panel members might include Peter Eigen of Transparency International transparency.org , Oded Grajew of the world social forum, Bill Drayton of ashoka.org- all of whom who have devoted a lifetime of work to understanding risks globalisation is in danger of compounding onto digitally divided or otherwise discriminated against communities. The panel should have a representative of all major religions, races etc that have a significant poverty population in their midst. We are looking at risks that wave beyond borders.

    Examples might be:
    organic – reduce the risk of cancerous poisons in out food and water chains

    end petroleum economics addiction with a special effort to develop a package tour guide to all open photosynthesis and sunshine experiments

    The threads would also need moderating. But instead of long debating posts, the webs community would be encouraged to vote on most urgent risks and to catalogue simple questions – a question might be which global market sector has the most responsibility for reducing this risk if all its largest organisations collaborated?

    In parallel to the thread of questions, we might have a 2nd column where accredited journalists or other open survey institutes announced links to any research of the question they were following up.

    The idea of this web is not to do too much but to prepare the way. For example, some of the risks and questions might at a next step become a series for the BBC or other public broadcaster to raise in a world service and scaled way. Step by step advances in transparency mapmaking and cross-cultural reconciliation are do-able now but if we wait even one more decade the consequences for sustainability of all peoples are, according to various independent mathematical models, not good.

    What is the APPROACH?

    see 1 for plan; I would not have suggested this if I was aware of it being done

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Currently organisations are governed formally only on monetary value not other compound values like health, cross-cultural safety, communal goodwill etc, environmental and networked intelligence;

    risk reduction is the simplest popular way to start intervening with wrong mathematical assumptions currently embedded in a globalisation -which can only compound more dis-trust less transparency unless the auditing and whole recognition for responsibility flows are systemically changed

    another benefit is that future generations will be sustained ; moreover risk is something teachers of children need to develop a new syllabus on and the questions from 360 degrees of global villages concerned by particular risks might provide some clues to developing an outline of that

    What is the COMPETITION?

    None that I am aware of. However please note this is a collaborative idea. If you have a simpler one for turning round risks of globalisation (and as Queen Elizabeth in her ened 2005 speech to the nation voiced “humanity turing on itself) then I vote for that

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    It’s less about money and technology than whether the people behind this competition feel the time has come to use their influence to support a worldwide risk reduction project. And can we see this as a stepping stone that for example could enable the BBC as world’s largest public broadcaster to take debates like Make Poverty History to a new integral level of understanding; connecting practical common sense that people in grassroots crisis situations can see has rooted long-term sustainability problems; reducing risks externalised onto the digitally divided or those who have historically been most discriminated against.

  4. TheyWantToWorkForYou.com

    Author: Seb Bacon

    What NEED does this meet?

    People standing as MPs or councillors want to get elected. Voters (I hope) would welcome the chance to be able to differentiate between the names on the ballot (beyond party allegiance).

    What is the APPROACH?

    Let’s consider a general election. We get a list of everyone standing in the election. We get them to write short responses to their position on key issues.

    Voters can type in their postcode and see the candidates and their positions on these issues. Perhaps they can write to the candidates on particular issues and have the candidates placing responses on the website. Perhaps voters can suggest local issues to prompt candidates about.

    Getting more fancy, perhaps we can ask a voter some questions about themselves and then rank the candidates in order of most-similar-to-their-own-opinions.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    I can think of loads of reasons this is a great idea, but here are some (OK, some of them are kind of the same):

    1. I could find out more about who is standing and thus become more involved in the democratic process, just by typing in my postcode.
    2. I would actually have a choice to vote on the person and not just the party – something I believe a lot of people would like to do if they could be bothered to find enough information to compare the individuals
    3. Independents and fringe candidates who can’t afford to leaflet everywhere get a free platform for their opinions.
    4. A forced format asking for (say) no more than 100 words on (say) education should make different candidates more comparable and (slightly) less amenable to spin, making it easier for us not to hate party-political literature
    5. If we can implement the sort-by-closeness-to-my-opinions algorithm, it makes it easier to see through the party allegiances to the actual issues
    6. Candidates are made more accountable to voters and less to their whips
    7. A nice historical archive of peoples opinions can be kept online – more accountability, post-election. i.e., it should be easier to find out if a given candidate went back on their promises (also how their opinions have changed over time)
    8. All the opinions of all candidates for (say) the Lib Dems on (say) income tax could be compared, to see how (for example) completely inconsistent they are on that issue

    What is the COMPETITION?

    I don’t know of any competition.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    I think technically this is all pretty easy and big parts from other mySociety projects should be reusable. I’m not sure how easy it is to get lists of candidates in electronic format though – this needs researching.

    The main problems are social ones. Problems I’ve thought of so far:

    1. getting candidates to bother using the system at all – especially given the fact that they’re not likely to appreciate being made more accountable
    2. getting voters to bother using the system at all
    3. who decides on what the issues are on which candidates write?

    I’ve not come up with answers to these yet but I’m confident they’re solvable with some beer-inspired inspiration.

  5. A collaborative consumer protection and representation portal.

    Author: Chris James

    What NEED does this meet?

    Your utilities companies, your internet company, your mobile phone companies, your online bank, your home shopping supermarket, and a hundred other companies who you do remote business with in your lifetime all keep records of you.

    They keep records of your billing details, personal details, and crucially – your conversations with them. The phrase ‘I’m just looking back through your notes’ must be familiar to everyone who has ever had an ongoing complaint with a major service provider.

    Consumers have a need to be able to keep the same records of their conversations. Contemporaneous written notes can help you keep your story straight when having to explain it for the tenth time to the tenth different person you’ve been put through to. They can also help if you ever have to resort to small claims court action.

    What is the APPROACH?

    I propose a free website where members of the public can set up a private ‘weblog’ of *their* conversations with these firms.

    The website would also have a collaborative element allowing users to get assistance on consumer issues that they face (see ‘Benefit’).

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    I have used this technique recently using my own wiki, and it has resulting in me getting back £200 owed to me by a service provider. This issue dragged on for about 8 months and without notes I would have been floundering to remember who said what and when.

    I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable of my rights as a consumer and have some ability at representing myself, but I know from personal experience how hard it is stand up for yourself when being brick-walled by ‘our company policy’ or ‘we can’t do that because of the Data Protection Act’ (usually spurious).

    Therefore I consider that the social networking aspect of the web makes for some interesting possibilities to help people support each other in these situations:

    For example the site could be given further utility by allowing users to invite members of a panel of ‘helpers’ to review their log. These helpers could evaluate the complaint, contact the company involved and try to work out a settlement. Such helpers could have legal or business knowledge, prior experience of arbitration or consumer advocacy, or may just show a talent for getting results in helping others.

    For companies that remain unresponsive, a ‘weblog of shame’ could be maintained, along with contact details of the trading standards office local to that company etc.

    Conversely the site could invite users who successfully resolve their complaints to publish a brief ‘howto’ to assist other users with the same or similar complaints, and shine some light on to providers who are willing to work out reasonable solutions to problems their users face.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    A number of sites provide consumer services in various forms, but most are related to media outlets (“Watchdog” and various newspapers), or NGOs eg “Consumer Association/Which?”. Additionally most employ some editorial process over which issues get their attention. This site would give utility to all users, not just those selected.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    There is clear utility in something like this, and it could be built as a simple web application using standard tools with relative ease. Recruiting and maintaining responsible ‘helpers’ may be an issue – although I am not sure of the need to have this as a formal process. What about allowing individuals to maintain their own profile and build up their own reputations for helping – and allow users to invite the ‘helpers’ that they see fit? And, as well as other site users, individuals could invite family and friends to help them out.

    It would be a good fit with mySociety as your charitable status would allow you to oversee this site without personal agenda and ensure that the quality of contributions is kept high and fair.

  6. YouAskThem – Supporting Freedom of Information requests and presenting responses

    Author: Phil Rodgers

    What NEED does this meet?

    UK Freedom of Information legislation allows individuals to make requests for information to various public organisations and receive responses. However, there is a bewildering array of different organisations that you can make requests to, and there is no straightforward way of finding out what requests others have made, and what response they received. This proposal is to apply social networking to freedom of information.

    What is the APPROACH?

    Build a website that allows users to:
    - send an FoI request to a particular organisation, along the lines of WriteToThem
    - record the request they’ve sent
    - record the response they receive
    - search/browse, comment on and tag other requests and responses
    - contact others interested in particular issues

    One way to populate this might be to send FoI requests to various organisations asking them what FoI requests they’ve received and what the responses were. If it achieved critical mass, then FoI requestors might ask the organisations to post their responses directly to the system.

    There might be some copyright issues, but that hasn’t stopped you building TheyWorkForYou.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    This would apply the benefits of social networking to freedom of information, promote greater transparency, and generally allow people to find out interesting things more easily. FoI is an important part of democracy, and something like this could make it much more effective.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    There doesn’t appear to be anything similar at the moment. If there were multiple such systems, they would probably tend to merge. This seems a good fit for MySociety because it’s all about enabling engagement with government and public organisations.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    Many of the issues involved are already reasonably well understood. It probably wouldn’t be more than an order of magnitude more complex than WriteToThem. A major challenge would be posting the responses, but users could help with this, and in the longer term organisations might be trained to do it directly.

  7. Linking to Maps. Dynamic

    Author: Brian Theasby

    What NEED does this meet?

    Linking to Maps. Dynamic.

    I would link, if OK and possible to link to Maps, etc.. Looking to link to Dynamic Maps e.g. I do not have to make change, you make updates your end and the map image link on my site updates automatically.

    These links would be added, at least to my page (Maps and Travel. Route Planners. How to get there. Bus times, Train Times, Ferry times. Aeroplane Times ( http://www.acomputerportal.com/maps_and_travel.html )) on the site below

    A Computer Portal. Freeware, Shareware. Download software. Computer languages and Programming code. Including PERL Scripts and Java Scripts. Webmaster Tools. Internet Marketing, Website promotion. Hardware Help from BIOS to Windows and UNIX.

    http://www.acomputerportal.com/index.html

    What is the APPROACH?

    Add links to map images.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    Provids users with information, and your site with visitors

    What is the COMPETITION?

    Google Maps and other, see :-

    Maps and Travel. Route Planners. How to get there. Bus times, Train Times, Ferry times. Aeroplane Times http://www.acomputerportal.com/maps_and_travel.html

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    Free for you.

  8. The People’s Platform

    Author: Denis Pitcher

    What NEED does this meet?

    I’ve been struggling to establish real democracy in my home country of Bermuda. Typical politics works much too slowly and the system of “representative democracy” simply does not match the growing needs of present times.
    I decided what was needed was an online collaborative effort to build a platform of the people. So that each individual can work to build the ideal political platform to give to their representatives as a guide to what the people want to see happen.
    I have grown much too tired watching as small groups decide the will of the people in a top down approach when really politics should be about all people involved from a bottom up approach.

    What is the APPROACH?

    I wanted to make The People’s Platform a reality. First I tried using the wikipedia engine, unfortunately because it is not WYSIWYG enabled, the interface was much too difficult for some.
    I then tried using a discussion forum, which was good for it’s voting potential, but didn’t allow submissions to be made to modify ideas.

    Here is what I ideally want to see built.

    An online collaborative “People’s Platform” website.

    1. Individuals can create topics just like on wikipedia
    2. Individuals can vote on topics
    3. Individuals can post submissions on how an idea or topic should be revised
    4. Individuals may discuss and debate revisions
    5. Individuals approve of revisions by voting upon them
    6. Changes are launched, and members of that idea are notified to rereview and vote.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    If we could convince our leadership what it is that WE want rather then having them tell us what we want, we would be closer to real and true democracy.

    The best possible platform is one that can take in the needs and desires of the greatest many individuals possible. Revisions can be made that make an idea stronger by allowing people to discuss the best possible solutions, suggest why they won’t work and how to revise them so they will.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    If you know of anything that already does this, let me know, I’ve been looking.

    My idea must win because it’s what all people interested in convincing our politicians to make a difference need as an open collaborative tool.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    This is relatively unknown. It would take a fair bit of coding or modification of existing platforms to create. I have considered a number of wiki projects as a starting point, but many arn’t designed in this manner and would have to be revised quite a bit to match the needs of this project.

    It is doable, just not by a single individual

  9. The Million Campaign Homepage

    Author: Matthew Edwards

    What NEED does this meet?

    Currently in the UK (and globally) there is a profound ‘democratic deficit’.

    In other words, there is a disconnection between the decentralised political campaigns run on the ground and the mainstream political institutions that are meant to represent and enact the needs and will of the people.

    In particular, the electorate are now massively alienated from Parliament.

    This does not mean, as is often suggested, there is mass apathy.

    People are as politically active, vibrant, and creative as ever.

    They are simply failing to listen to those whose profession is politics, and many of those whose profession is politics are failing to listen to the people.

    To regenerate our mainstream institutions we need to build as many bridges as possible (with as few tolls as possible) between the people, between different campaigns, and the politicians.

    What is the APPROACH?

    This proposal is eminently simple.

    I noted with interest the stunning progress of the Million Dollar Homepage (http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/) run by Alex Tew, a 21 year old who decided to pay his way through university by selling a million pixels of internet advertising space for $1 each.

    The page is now sold out.

    I like Mr.Tew’s inventiveness. However, I feel the world has plenty of advertising already.

    A Million Campaign Homepage would do exactly the same thing. It would sell (or, better, give away) pixels to non-violent political campaigns throughout the UK, thus creating a website bursting with links which would be a valuable resource as well as looking extraordinary.

    It could be done as a one-off, single webpage with no particular limits on the kinds of campaigns involved.

    It could also be run as several websites each dedicated to campaigns in a particular field – eg. anti-torture, peace campaigns, animal rights, pro-science, disarmament, etc etc.

    What are the BENEFITS to people?

    The idea is, in essence, to build a vast Sim City-style grid of links to political campaigns. This would have potential in building bridges between campaigns which might otherwise be isolated. It would also serve as a very direct, very visual, and very easy to use set of bookmarks – or a kind of library index, with each book (the website of the campaign in question) accessible at the click of a mouse.

    What is the COMPETITION?

    There may be copyright issues with Mr.Tew’s website. However, since it would be dedicated to political campaigns it would, I trust, make the seven changes necessary to overcome copyright considerations. It would, after all, be a very different enterprise.

    There are not really directly similar services out there, although people’s use of Rupert Murdoch’s Myspace as an Ourspace to spread political consciousness is in some ways similar.

    There are all sorts of sites with useful links pages.

    Nobody has, to my knowledge, yet attempted to weave them together into a tapestry which can be navigated by somebody at a computer.

    What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

    This depends on how it is organised.

    In theory, it would cost the price of hosting a single webpage, and the hours of labour involved in organising it.

    If it were run on a not-for-profit basis it would be theoretically free, if the volunteers involved are happy to offer their labour for nothing.

    There would, I am sure, be the potential for sponsorship and help.

    As for difficulty, the beauty of it is that it is utterly simple.

  10. Call for Proposals Deadline Extended

    The mySociety Call for Proposals 2006 will close officially at midnight on 16th June. There are already 70 proposals for new websites, and mySociety will build the best idea. We’ve postponed the close of the call for proposals so that it can feature in the next edition of the legendary email newsletter NTK.