James Zhang


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Social Media Platform for Idea. Changing patent system?

What if there's a social media platform where people just generate ideas or fix problems? You can basically think of it as a universal feedback system for just about everything.

Here's the business model:
Different parties:
- Companies
- Government
- SM-Platform itself
- Users

Government and Companies pay and sponsor this SM-Platform. The SM-Platform in return provides new and innovated ideas and solutions, where any company or government can use unlimited amount.

The SM-Platform, with the sponsorship money from Companies and Government, can pay the users.

Users are free to join, from anywhere. They should get paid a little bit (not nearly enough to be livable by itself) for being regular users. However, as a user, your job is to either come up with good questions or problems to identify, or come up with great solutions that most people can agree is a good solution. You are given credit points for the quality of user you are. You earn points for being a regular user, for coming up with a lot great questions or problems to address, or for coming up with a lot of great solutions. And depending on the credit, the SM-Platform pays each user. And credit can be determined also by other user ratings of each other.

So basically the companies or government is continually paying for the service of other people's ideas in an open-source fashion. Why should the companies or government do it? They don't have to worry about stealing other people's intellectual property, and they can continually pay for the services of innovation. And the users are basically making a living off of simply generating ideas, whether it be solutions to problems or identifying important problems.

Oh I just realized one problem with this model. The smaller companies may choose not to sponsor this SM-Platform and can still just as easily get the ideas. Perhaps only a company who has reached a certain size MUST sponsor the SM-Platform...

What do you guys think?

  • Jul 28 2012: I think it is a very fascinating idea. It seems like it could provide valuable new outlooks on problems, but I don't know if it would be very economically viable.

    Exploitation seems like a major risk. If a big company is paying for this service, it would want and also deserve the ideas produced. With everyone being able to see the idea, any competitive business could easily look into the discussions and have full access to the ideas. There is little protection. Also, if people are being paid, it brings in more chance for exploitation. What would be the grading criteria? It would be hard to make that objective. Also, user ratings are only semi-reliable. Someone may have a wonderful idea, but, based on personal vendettas, be scaldingly reviewed by his peers. It seems like it would be very hard to do well.

    Also, it seems like there would be less incentive to actually use this system than actually going through the company. If I had a brilliant idea, why would I post it on the SM platform? It seems like it would be much more beneficial for me to go directly to the company with the solution. That way I wouldn't have to share the profits of my idea with the others in the SM-platform.

    Finally there is the area of expertise. Most of these complex problems need extensive knowledge on a subject. (a power plant would need to have people who know a lot about electricity.) It would seem better for a company to merely recruit people it needed to solve its problems. That way ideas would be more viable because people know about the subject. It seems like it would be more efficient to simply use technology to get experts on the field to work together instead of letting the population at large comment on very specific problems.

    I think you are on to a wonderful idea. This seems like it would be a wonderful method for the government to use though. I think people wouldn't necessarily have to be paid, but you would have the same benefits. Great idea!
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      Jul 28 2012: So in the end, one of the only ways for this idea to work is the community of users itself. How can moral values overpower greed?

      The idea of the credit system was just a way for people to try not to sabotage one another. Because I wanted the credit system to be a focus, not just on the ideas themselves, but a focus on trying to be a good moral person who supports other people and their ideas as well. Well, I don't even know if there really is a way to fix all greed, but at hopefully this could be a system to help establish a good role-model-like community.

      The other idea is, I kinda wanted to appeal gamers into this too. While Gamers themselves aren't the "experts" in a professional field, the traditional gamer, however, are naturally very good problem solvers. There have been many cases where social media has allowed gamers to solve the problems of some complex medical issues in a very short amount of time. A humongous collaborative effort of everyone trumps several great minds.

      And as you have said, the other big problem is, how do you stop small companies from free access to this platform? Why should bigger companies agree to allow their eventual competitors an edge? Well, the idea is, you can't stop access to these ideas. Too hard to stop anyways. I haven't really come up with a "foolproof" way for this problem yet. But I do know that Google is a very respectable company who I can see, agree to something like this, if it's for the better of society. They've done many things out of their ways as a company to support other small companies with big potential. So perhaps if I can appeal to Google somehow, this would be one big step to also establishing a moral value groundwork for companies.

      So really, I'm putting a lot of faith in good morals against greed, because I've seen it happen before. That's how the whole Open-Source phenomenon began anyways.
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      Jul 28 2012: Oh yeah, and maybe this won't create that great an incentive for the guys who come up with great ideas and just go directly to the companies, but it could be a good way for just normal people to engage in real issues, and for companies and government to actually listen to what people had to say on certain topics. Like maybe kids themselves can just go to these sites and complain about how to make school better lol
      • Jul 29 2012: I still think it is a great idea. I think that the morality issue is quite complex. Not everyone would try to abuse the system, but if a few people did, it could potentially mess up the whole system. It really is the financial incentive to users that would make it very unstable in my opinion. If that was removed, I think the system would lose a few people but be overall much more viable. Take for example TED, it functions incredibly well. It has discussions on many different things and brings many ideas together, but I think financial incentive for being a "good" user could be problematic.

        I really enjoy your idea of gamers becoming involved.

        I the about other companies taking other ideas is complicated as well. I see what you mean that these new ideas/inventions will become known eventually. It is true, but the patent system still gives a company an economic advantage when it does invent something new. If the system doesn't change, the SM-platform could end up favoring one company greatly. So if the SM-platform comes up with a good idea, the first company that patents the idea (or improves its good with the idea and then patents that) will reap a lot of the rewards. It wouldn't necessarily be the company that is paying the bulk of the cost of the SM-platform either. So similarly to the financial incentive, it would only take a few bad apples to ruin the whole bunch.

        I still think that this would be a great system for the government to implement though. It would allow from people from different states to bring different ideas together. It would also be nice to see how different places handle the same problem. Then if there is any idea copying, it would (hopefully) only make the government more efficient. The kids could complain about school, and we then we could actually improve the schools! lol
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          Jul 29 2012: Yeah, the morality issue is indeed complex... Perhaps there needs to be some way where we can stop a few people from being bad apples. Maybe there needs to be some kind of regulation system from the SM-Platform. And maybe also perhaps, the thing needs to establish itself as good community right off the bat. Kind of like how Pinterest started out. They let a bunch of women who were into fashion, food, art, etc. and just let them go crazy. Now Pinterest is stereotypically defined as a medium for women who are typically into that stuff. I use it for different purposes like photographs, artworks, music, etc. that I've found and collect randomly.

          I know there's the whole gamer stereotype, that I really hate. Because a lot of my friends who are gamers, are also some of the most analytically intelligent people out there. There's some people who are very good at statistical analysis, some are quick thinkers because they need to think on their feet, and then some are just really creative and understand the metagames. And so on. I have a lot of respect for what these gamers can do.

          I should clarify how I was thinking about how the intellectual property is being handled. Basically it was kind of similar to how Creative Commons does things. Idea is, SM-platform generates the intellectual property. All companies get intellectual property from SM-Platform. The SM-Platform and Users find some kind of contract to agree on. Users have rights to their own Intellectual Property. Maybe they sign an agreement terms of use, where the ideas can and will be used by other companies, government, etc. But SM-Platform gives the users credit for such ideas maybe. But then if multiple people decide have contributed to one idea, then there needs to be a way to decide what they contributed? Or maybe that's too much effort...

          Maybe this could just be adopted by the government on a preliminary level... hmm...
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          Jul 29 2012: Basically my purpose is this:

          Make a system model that:
          - makes open-source sustainable
          - generates massive amounts of ideas
          - rewards people for generating ideas or identifying problems
          - supports an environment that encourages people to help each other
          - respects each other's intellectual property
          - doesn't get corrupted or abused easily by a few people
          - empower companies to do their business and not worry about intellectual property too.

          What I hope to accomplish with this model:
          - engages more people on problem-solving topics, thus improving education of people
          - improve the way intellectual property should be: protecting people's innovation but also rewarding people's innovation. But there's almost always loopholes for people to abuse -_-
          - improving the way businesses should work, which is to sell products that help society in some way, not a bunch of lawyers hoarding a bunch of patents to troll some company.
          - create a more caring society. I bet there are a ton of intelligent criminals or problem-solving hackers who would like this. They're being accepted in society to problem solve or find the flaws of stuff.