Y Combinator Challenge #23 – More Open Alternatives to Wikipedia

For more information about the Y Combinator Challenge, check out this post first.

23. More open alternatives to Wikipedia. Deletionists rule Wikipedia. Ironically, they’re constrained by print-era thinking. What harm does it do if an online reference has a long tail of articles that are only interesting to a few people, so long as everyone can still find whatever they’re looking for? There is room to do to Wikipedia what Wikipedia did to Britannica.

My Idea – Biograph

Pop quiz – if your house caught fire and you only had time to save three things, what would they be?  For me, besides my autographed photo of Dustin Diamond (obviously) and Dan and Sky, I’d probably choose to save our photo albums.  Of course, that’s what everyone would do.  Memories are, to quote Mr. Benjamin Linus, a fickle b*&ch.   Cavemen got around the problem by drawing on their cave walls, the Egyptians marked their territory with the pyramids, and after thousands of years of technological progress, we’ve finally gotten to the point where we can document our lives in digital formats that will likely be obsolete within twenty years.  Woot.

Enough rambling – today’s idea is a massive non-profit endeavor to capture biographies of every single person in the world.  People could visit the Biograph site, and instead of just creating a very basic profile or collecting a set of links to your social networks, you would instead document out hundreds, if not thousands, of details about your day-to-day life.  Users could enter details about specific events in their lives that would be categorized by time/date and location, and could also contribute stories about events that you shared with other people on the site.  While users would be encouraged to keep the information public, there would be privacy options to prevent users outside of your network from viewing your information.  Also, unlike Wikipedia, the point of this site would be to create a massive historical record of everyday, normal people, that could truly capture the personalities and culture of our generation.

Along with the daily stories about your life, users could upload photographs of themselves and their friends, and tag them with approximate dates when they were taken.  After a while, the site would begin to represent a massive timeline of events and photos that would represent an accurate picture of what life was like for people of all walks of life.  Users could also browse through their own past via a timeline interface, and either fill in details or just take a trip back through memory lane.  Even better, users could check out their friends and familes’ histories to get a better sense of who they really are, by browsing old photos or reading about stories and events from their past.

What do you guys think of this one?  Feel free to post any thoughts or comments below!

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4 responses to “Y Combinator Challenge #23 – More Open Alternatives to Wikipedia

  1. already being done and by a YCombinator-funded company too: http://www.biographicon.com/

  2. “Important: The Biographicon will be shutting down permanently on Aug 21.”

  3. I love your thinking! I just came across this blog today and am amazed at the great stuff you’re generating. It’s almost like you could hire yourself out as the creative “think tank” who comes up with start-ups. Did you already list that as one of your start-ups? LOL!

    All the best to you as you continue your creative meandering!

    Lara

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