Trigger: I was walking on Times Square and I saw a huge advertisement that looked like a canvas with random drawings on it. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I thought, “What if I could make a huge gynormous or endless canvas where everybody would be able to draw whatever they want. Somewhat like an endless graffiti? How about if you could purchase of your area? how about if you could add multimedia? How about if you allow user created flash applications? How about if you make it a real estate business?…”
How: I wanted to make it on my own, but needed time and money. Requires extensive communication with server and the mouse movements need to be well sync-ed with users. My friend Alek needed to help me with the backend, I was going to make the fronted with flash.
Mistake: It was nearly impossible to explain it. It takes me hours and hours to explain the complicated idea and the possibilities that arise. I need paper to draw, I need then to always answer many questions and often by these questions I would think that the person facing me totally does not understand what kinda of digital world I am talking about.
The Story: As we thought we had to get some funding. One of the few things we did was apply for Ycombinator.com. Paul Graham did ask me some stuff after we submitted the application (which didn’t surprise me, given the very limited paragraphs in which we had to explain the idea). We didn’t get accepted for one reason or another. Between the feeling of rejection, the ambition, and the excitement we decided that we should try it out even if we didn’t get the funding. And so we started. It took us only 2, 3 days to give up. Over those days, we argued each trying to impose their own vision of how this idea can be done and what it should be like. It turns out it was so complicated in terms of concept that both of us founders had different idea to the point we didn’t even write one line of code before we let go. After all PG had made a good choice.
There was thousand ways of explaining it. “Social networking with a spatial perspective”, “Facebook on 3d”, “Drawing canvas where you could lay your web page at coordinates 300:320”, or “The useful Second Life.”
Every time I tried to explain it with a different term, it would confuse the listener even more. If I had it built maybe people would get the idea. But I can’t do it on my own, which is why I am posting it. It would look like a mix of GE’s drawing site,
Eric Deis’s experiment which works better when there are more people:
If you could post a music player on Boston and hear it everywhere on the canves within a radius of 1000pixels it would be quit fun. If Nike posted an add at 400:400, then the value around it would appreciate due to traffic. And little by little, according to the content around, cities, villages of virtual information would emerge. A new market for spatial website management emerges. Instead of domains that are virtually attached by links, everything would be like in real world marked by dependency of distance.
This is how we tried to explain it at YC: “A spatial application in the form of an unlimited interactive whiteboard, that is divided in X and Y coordinates. People will not only be able to freely roam and draw, but also upload music, images, videos as well as Flash applications anywhere on the surface. This way, users will be able to upload media, and also tools to modify it. As they create new content they will want to keep it by purchasing physical space on the X:Y plane. In time, popularity of owners, physical positioning, and content of the ???land??™ will create dependencies among the citizens of the now populated ???cities??™. Hopefully, we will be able at a later point to introduce Z dimension for 3D.”
I think its a cool idea, but its difficult to be done and its almost impossible to be explained. If you can get the idea, or if it sparks something similar of yours, and you think you can do it – please feel free – make it. I’d love to see it alive. Tons of money there!
Moral: Sometimes simple things may turn out to be a better choice…