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Ideas by Category:
Minitrue Fact-Checking Services
Target Audience: Newspapers, magazines, and funded blogs; any research desk at a major publication who work well together, and want to go up the food chain
Description: What's the difference between a blog and a newspaper, a Wikipedia and a Britannica? It's the fact-checking, stupid! Minitrue Fact Services is a team of experienced fact-checkers from top national publications who've gone independent, and now offer their professional services to anyone. For newspapers and magazines looking for ways to cut back, Minitrue lets you lay off your research desks and start outsourcing. We all live in the same reality-- so why should everyone have to hire and manage their own redundant research desks? For bloggers, Minitrue gives you the authority and credibility of the big boys if you can pay the price (and spend the time on corrections). All approved content gets to display the Minitrue Seal-of-Truth logo, which links to the verified clients list on the Minitrue website. Look for it! And for all you old journalists who started out as fact-checkers and have been trying to work your way "up" to editorial writers: Don't bother. Opinions are cheap, now more than ever. These days, the real action is in verification.
Public Sector Innovation Institute
Category: Service / Training and Consulting
Price: 1% of net
Target Audience: Government and nonprofit management
Description: Like private businesses, public-sector organizations must constantly raise revenues, budget, improve program activities, and introduce the public to new ideas. The business world answers these challenges with effective strategies for problem-solving, creative thinking, and knowledge management. The Public Sector Innovation Institute offers the same benefits to nonprofits and governments around the world, by adapting these proven techniques to their needs. Through training and consulting, the Institute helps organizations handle tough challenges and complex projects, such as implementing knowledge management strategies. The Institute also acts as a one-stop resource center, offering workshops and classes (live and by Web), and bringing together publications and individual and organizational expertise that focuses on narrower aspects of innovation.
Education Department Office of Special Projects (ED/OSP)
Category: Service / Government
Target Audience: People who want more government support of the arts (whether or not it's called that).
Description: With state budgets down nationwide, how do we improve education? Testing is one tactic, but the Education Department's Office of Special Projects (ED/OSP) has another cost-effective weapon for this important battle: Self-Propagating Education Devices, or SPEDs, which expand peoples' knowledge by getting them to pay attention, analyze, argue, and learn. Effective SPEDs, which may be either physical objects or documents, are so powerfully interesting that they spread through the population virally via word-of-mouth and media coverage. This numerically explosive exposure path means that one single SPED can deliver its lesson-payload to students (and others) throughout the country, without requiring a single teacher or classroom. The ED/OSP can commission and deploy most SPEDs for less than $20,000 apiece-- that's a helluva lot of educational bang for the buck. Note: SPEDs are not what some people refer to as "Art" or "Artworks," and the ED/OSP has nothing but contempt for those French-looking snobs in the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities who throw taxpayer money at liberal propaganda and family-hating filth.
Missed Connections Agent
Category: Service / Personal
Target Audience: craigslist.com, alternative weeklies, and other publishers of personals / missed connections ads who might want an easy new source of revenue
Description: Hey, you're a head-turning man- or woman-about-town who is looking for that special someone -- but with a busy schedule like yours, who has time to search the "Missed Connections" section of craigslist or the local alt-weekly? With Missed Connections Agent, all the hopeful little missives you inspire will be delivered to your mailbox daily. Once you've subscribed to the reasonably-priced monthly service, you simply enter your location, usual commute route, and basic physical description. MCA then continuously searches all new Missed Connection postings from a variety of sources (community sites, newspapers, youwerewearing.com), finds the ones that fit, and emails you a combined report, sorted by likelihood of match. An advanced filtering page lets you enter more details for special occasions -- exactly where you were, what you were wearing, etc. Subscribe now, before you miss any more!
Operation Loom -- "Sting Research" for Feds
Category: Service / Government / Law Enforcement
Target Audience: DEA, FBI, other agencies with budgets for cooking up clever sting operations
Description: Who, besides someone who's up to no good, would buy a book about how to conceal parcels in public places? Federal investigative and enforcement agencies could gather high-quality data by operating undercover as a far-libertarian fringe bookseller, positioned as a new, slick competitor to companies like Loompanics. A website takes orders for original, practical guides covering topics of special interest to criminals: drug manufacture, identity fraud, defeating security systems, etc. As the operation fulfills orders it banks all data -- credit card numbers, shipping addresses, names -- for direct use in targeting investigations or in conjunction with other data sets. The books themselves plausibly cover their topics, and may also contain carefully-crafted disinformation designed to direct or otherwise enhance the efforts of law enforcement (provided this carries absolutely no risk of arousing suspicions about the publisher). This project requires no more than three months to set up, including building the website, writing the books (print on demand), and taking out ads in selected libertarian and anti-government publications. An additional three months will determine whether the data gleaned is worthwhile, at which point the "publishing venture" can either continue its operations or be discreetly folded.
Category: Service / Financial
Target Audience: Call-in sex talk, psychic, horoscope, and other toll phone service entrepreneurs.
Description: Disgruntled employees and bitter exes can taste sweet revenge with 1-900-REVENGE. Simply call the number from enemy territory, then leave the phone off the hook. The toll service plays innocuous "Hold" music without hanging up, to the tune of $100 per minute. The payoff comes when enormous charges appear on the victim's next phone bill. Even if the charges are fought and dropped, it's still a huge hassle. 1-900-REVENGE represents capitalism in its purest form: The Service Is The Billing.(SM)
Category: Service / Personal
Target Audience: State and local transit authorities, in conjunction with wireless carriers.
Description: Designed for both web browsers and handheld wireless devices, Rideshare.com helps drivers and carpool passengers find each other any time, on a moment's notice. Registered users – who have credit cards, are traceable, and hopefully aren't axe murderers – enter their departure location, departure time, and destination, whether it's a quick hop across town in a few minutes, or a long road trip in a few months. The system optimally matches drivers to passengers and identifies each to one another by license plate and ID card numbers. Passengers also receive a trip code, which they give to the driver after they arrive at their destination. When the driver enters the trip code, the system debits the passenger's account and credits the driver's account at an agreed-upon mileage rate, like ten cents per mile (mileage rates are set during the match search, based on the lowest and highest numbers users are willing to accept). Rideshare.com takes a cut of each fee transacted, and makes additional money off of grants from traffic reduction and clean-air funds, both public and private.
Future Beliefs Fund
Category: Service / Financial
Target Audience: Fidelity, Merrill-Lynch, other big investment houses.
Description: Mutual funds meet personalization in the Future Beliefs Fund. The mutual fund consists of two hundred high quality investments – but instead of fund managers picking the proportions behind closed doors, they assign weights that correlate each investment's anticipated performance to a set of easy-to-understand predictions, such as "Interest rates will rise/hold/fall," "Iraq will prosper/decline," "U.S. consumers will embrace/reject genetically modified foods." Each fund shareholder then becomes their own fund manager: as they fill out their predictions on an online form, a Bayesian network calculates the optimal investment mix, given their beliefs about the future, and offers it for approval, or review and modification. Investors can change their belief/investment mix at will, tweak transaction orders directly to override the results, and access an array of graphical tools that explain how their beliefs translated into portfolio percentages.
Happytime Document Destruction
Category: Service / Office / Document Destruction
Description: In our imperfect world, you may find it necessary some day to destroy a quantity of business documents -- and as the Enron/Andersen scandal has shown, the task must be accomplished correctly. Other professionals listed the Yellow Pages under "Documents, Destruction" promise fast service, will come to your location, and will let you look on as they feed their paper-powdering shredders. But their tight-lipped, all-business approach neglects an enterprise's need for positive morale during trying times. Happytime Document Destruction takes a more humanistic approach. They come to your offices wearing full clown regalia, pushing their high-speed shredders in on oversize baby carriages. Available by appointment or at a moment's notice, they can greet your entire grateful staff during business hours, or make a special visit to a few of you late at night. Once the shredding's done, Happytime doesn't just cart away the fluffy bags of ground paper. They take them into your parking lot, douse them with gas, and torch them sky-high, in a cathartic ritual that sends your cares into the air. Happytime Document Destruction -- they're on your side.
Category: Service / Personal
Target Audience: Google, Yahoo!
Description: When you want to decide on something and give everyone a fair chance, you can flip a coin, draw lots, pick names out of a hat, or play rock/scissors/paper. But what if everyone's in different places? Cointoss.com lets you run these tried-and-true group selection processes fairly and securely from everyones' browsers. As with a quick conference call or net meeting, participants browse to a shared location and simultaneously run the process. Requiring no maintenance and minimal computing resources, the site bases its operation on simple random-seed and timestamp-based scripts, while banner ads generate revenue.