PubWan

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In case anyone's interested, a pubwan wiki has been started at scratchpad.wikia:

http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Pubwan

Also in the Wikia family of free-hosted wikis is barcode wiki:

http://barcode.wikia.com/

This is a wiki that deserves your support. If you can find even a very small amount of time to do volunteer data entry there, it would probably be good for humynkind.


PubWan, like Wiki, can only happen if people [[|http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?OpenCommerce VolunteerInformation||http://www.brightidea.com/obviewidea.asp?ideaid{7643717A-C33F-419C-9DC6-45CBCB0A77FE}&bucketid]], but unlike Wiki is more geared to tabular (database or spreadsheet) information than hyperlinkage. One goal of PubWan is to OpenCommerce to people who have been outside commerce looking in, such as workers and consumers, i.e. all of us.

PubWan looks way cool. I'll leave my mark there as soon as I get a RoundToit. It seems wonderful. I hope we can use ObjectWiki RelationalObjects to treat PubWan as CollaborativeWebObjects. WE can do it==== :) -- JimScarver ====


I see not why not, but I think more easily in SQL than in object oriented schemata that make my head spin. --LorraineLee


PubWan is a ThoughtExperiment, which is to say idle speculation. Much of the speculation is concerned with whether PubWan is possible. There are also questions as to whether it is desirable. The motivation for PubWan is one lonely soul's frustration with the seeming lack of "transparency" in the consumer sector. The idea of economics without frustration goes against at least a dozen empirically proven laws of economics, but happily so does the idea of economics without TransParency.

One of the most informationally frustrating parts of the consumer experience is buying groceries. Whether it is the most frustrating consumer market is debatable. For example, consumer telecommunications probably beats the supermarket industry for nonlinear pricing schemes, not to mention contractual strings attached. Still, the food market might be a better first project for PubWan for the following reasons:

  • Rarely does a consumer purchase more items on one invoice than at a supermarket. This brings an enormous amount of combinatorial complexity to shopping strategy.
  • The supermarket industry seems to exceed all others when it comes to inventing variants on the "two-part-ttariff, from coupons to double coupons to snail-in rebates to "loyalty cards" and beyond.
  • Consumption of foodstuffs is not optional. Research on the subject is relevant to everyone, and everyone who buys food possesses relevant information that could in most cases be volunteered.

So, while PubWan is "about" consumer-directed market research in general, LorraineLee proposes starting with the consumer food market.

LorraineLee knows nothing about object oriented programming, and should probably figure it out already before diving into the Wiki phenomenon. Nevertheless, Wiki-as-implemented seems even more hierarchy-flattening and otherwise mind blowing than even PubWan-as-gethunken, and is therefore irresistible.

The one computing language that does make sense to LorraineLee is SQL. While she finds objects mysterious and abstract, tables appear familiar and comforting. The reader is asked to indulge in a thought experiment at this time. Imagine the existence of the following tables:

  • A table called "product" with columns for UPC (e.g. "0-11110-87440-5"), brand (e.g. "Kroger"), "subbrand" (e.g. "Break Free"), generic_description (e.g. "frozen pasteurized egg product")
  • A table called "productforsale" with columns for UPC, latitude, longitude, dateandtime, price, and loyalty (a boolean column indicating whether a loyalty card is required for the price in the price column.

Several orders of magnitude more difficult than creating such tables is populating them. LorraineLee suggests this activity as an experiment in [[|http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?BarnRaising BarnRaising]].

An even more extreme (and less feasible) goal for PubWan could be the ability to solve complex optimization problems. Consider the following preferences:

  • days worth of complete nutrition maxhi (maximize with high priority)
  • total calories minlo
  • total fat minlo
  • total fiber maxlo

These numbers would be products of MarketBaskets, or itemized lists of goods. The number of possible baskets totaling, say, $100, is huge, but finite. The above specification could be thought of as a cheapskate's preferences. Someone raking a little higher on Maslow's famous Hierarchy of Needs might have the following priorities:

  • days worth of nutrition maxlo
  • total calories minhi
  • total fat minhi
  • total fiber maxhi

The point here is that different people have different needs, wants, and a wide variety of normative criteria should be able to be accommodated. Either way, it amounts to a convex optimization problem, just with the objectives weighted differently for different needs. But first a lot of data must be gathered.


This data already exists. The real problem is getting this data from where it is warehoused in its various parts, to appear as one data log, for LorraineLee and everyone else interested.

Some of those warehouses 'should' be public domain, such as any general government held ones, but noone has probably made available. Others will be proprietary (such as Kroger's, Food World, Piggly Wiggly, Stop and Shop, etc).

Now, wild suggestions... :-D I would think that the commercial merchants competing with each other in areas would like to see their opponents prices. This is possible leverage... I'd suggest contacting the various Big Names (National and Large Regional retailers) and seeing if they would like to show off their 'Best/Featured' prices.

Second, some people are probably already entering the information for what they paid into their personal records. It won't be a large number, but there will be those. Locate the products being used to do such a thing. See if there is a way to leverage that information. The only thing you should need is where it was bought, after all.

The information you want exists already. I think it would be worth your time examining options on how to gain access to that information, rather then having to re-enter all that information. Sometimes, it cannot be done.

I'd suggest you don't name a data column 'Loyalty'. Maybe 'Store_Membership' or something else. Enough places will have enough different 'membership' schemes to suggest a more general name. How are you going to differentiate between two or more different membership programs? (You'll need a list you point back to for that.) Also... How are you going to show the non-membership prices? Where are you going to track the various 'How to become a member'? As soon as you publish a document showing the price break people get for being a member, they are going to want to know how to become one. And this, see, is part of your leverage on the retailers... it's 'free advertising' for them. (although expect price variation between regions... due to different taxing schemes, if nothing else).

Something to think about. And are you sure that there isn't already Diet clubs that are not already doing this? I don't know of any, but I'm not particularly Diet conscious.

Good Luck==== --StarPilot ====


I GetIt. I'm slow much of the time. You are a potential ObjectWiki user. You could help write UserStories maybe, to me the user is too often an AlienIntelligence. The good news is that you can use SQL or any language you want in WikiTalk and it should support your knowledge base nicely :). -- JimScarver


Much more diplomatic to call it membership than loyalty, thanks StarPilot. Many such programs are pretty much binary (you have it or you don't) but I wouldn't be surprised if the future holds more of them with contractual strings attached...hopefully not to include NonDisclosure.

Not sure what is a Diet club. I would think that people interested in dietetics, nutrition science and the like (which would include me) are generally hungry for much deeper food information sources than the dumbed down "Nutrition Information" grid on food packages. The most impressive source I have found so far is the [[|http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR14/sr14.html USDA's nutrition database]]. A relation mapping UPC's to NDB numbers (their key field) would go a long way to ironing many inefficiencies out of consumer purchases. Probably wouldn't hurt overall level of public health, either. --LorraineLee


Lorraine, I'll ask my girlfriend about what Dieting clubs/forums/communities she participates in, and ask her about the info provided... if it's any better/worse/equal to the Nutrition Information grid. And you are welcome. :-D

 Follow up: I found out what information my girlfriend's dieting clubs/forums/communities make available. Two kinds of info: 1) The USDA's nutritional facts, and 2) Weight Watcher food types/blocks. I'd hoped for more. --StarPilot

Jim, no worries. Users are easy... You are a User. Remember that. 'Users are WE'. :-D I remember I am a User, and it really helps out... as I'm about the most brain dead user any system can be cursed with. (What was it that does that function? Control what? Er... was this it? Hey==== Where did all my data go! Waw! :-( .. . ) --StarPilot ====


A little fooling around with search engines has brought to my attention that the word I'm looking for (one of the words I'm looking for) is 'aggregation'. By PubWan, what I've been meaning to say is something along the lines of "consumer-directed aggregation". The "consumer-directed" apelappellation as not to be confused with the usual proprietary solutions to proprietary problems ("shop bots" and the like). ---LorraineLee


After a protracted absence, the PubWan web page again exists, now geobranded==== ====

http://www.geocities.com/n8chz/


Cool==== I see you were looking to buy the PubWan.com which is not available. PUBWAN.NET PUBWAN.ORG PUBWAN.INFO PUBWAN.BIZ PUBWAN.US PUBWAN.WS are still available at adv. http://TheRealNic.com a .NET seems appropriate if I get it. -- JimScarver ====


Actually, I wasn't in the market for PubWan.com, simply pointing out that some namespace prospector had staked it. I don't think PubWan needs a domain. Mainly it needs volunteered information, as well as some volunteered software and bandwidth, which could be distributed via sneakernet for all I care. If I were to get it a domain name, it would probably (out of principle) be in some alternative namespace la [[|http://reclaimthe.net/ reclaim the net]]


Open source world would be a good place to look for the PubWan developers. Heck, I might even help on the software end. ;-)

But you will need a home for it, somewhere. Someone has to host the data. Unless you go Peer-To-Peer, in which case your PubWan application that gets you into the PubWan network also hosts all your PubWan related data. Drawback to that is if you aren't on the PubWan, your data isn't available to the rest of the PubWan. Since the goal is to have all data available possible at one time, data that comes and goes does not sound as if it is suitable.

However, using a FreeNet type approach, where you donate a piece of your machine in return for participating... that might be a solution. Then the PubWan wouldn't be a normal hosted domain, it is literally a synergy of all participants and their donated resources. Of course, you waste a lot of storage resources like that, as the network has to replicate all PubWan data much more then just a backup copy to make sure the data is available on the PubWan distributed network model.

  • Simplest option: Get a domain, get a host.
  • Best option (in my simple viewpoint at this time): Join FreeNet.

---StarPilot


You raise some interesting points. I always assumed peer-to-peer networking would be the most natural way to implement PubWan, but there is the drawback you mention. I'm not familiar with the FreeNet type approach of which you speak. The way you describe it it looks like a distributed database with Usenet-style abundance of redundancy, which is to say PubWan. If the ability to make ad-hoc queries from this mess can somehow be realized, you have the beginning of the "central view" someone referred to somewhere in WikiWorld.

I haven't been thinking much about hosting and software. I've been thinking more about the data, much of which has a short shelf life. I haven't yet seen the public domain take much interest in studying moving targets. This is an area where I think it has a lot of catching up to do. Hopefully the inevitable RealityConstraints aren't too unforgiving.


FreeNet is something I've read about in a few places. It's meant to be a sort of distributed, peer-to-peer network that anonymousizes and encrypts all input sources. This is meant to allow freedom of expression and freedom from governmental persecution, but would have a larger impact than merely a 'forum' where individuals might talk politics or what not.

Do not despair, LorraineLee. There is obviously a tremendous amount of interest in PubWan. Have you not seen FatWallet? A sight where consumers exchange information on where to get the best deals from retailers. It's only one of many such communities... and that is the primary/core user activity I have gathered from your talks about PubWan (yes, I know there is more, but that would seem to be the common consumer's main interest). Oh, FatWallet is also an excellent example of the large corporations in motion. Wal-Mart sued FatWallet, slapping it with a DMCA violation, for allowing the consumers using the site to exchange information on the After-Thanksgiving day sales. Sign of the times when a simple sheet of facts is copyrighted material and it's a violation of federal law to extract and enter facts into a public document. (Which is what got me thinking you may need to consider FreeNet...)

It seems to me that there is clearly a strong demand for PubWan. Look at all the bargain hunter communities. So, the trick is who ends up controlling what will emerge as the major points for it. A corporation or business is targetable by other corporations. For customer relations reasons, it is bad for most businesses to run their own forums discussing their business and products. These are just a few of the reasons I think PubWan should be 'hard to pressure/hard to shut down'.

Let's step past the data, for a moment. How do you see consumers finding PubWan, and using it? How do you keep companies only playing nicely, rather then deciding to refuse their own deals and slip ups that an sharp eyed consumer informs other bargain hunters about? So far, when a company makes a mistake in the digital world, or it is published in the digital world, suddenly the company decides to not honor their legal obligation. Instead, they see the consumer education channels to stop distributing the information, and merely tell people, 'that wasn't in the spirit of the deal, so we aren't honoring it. Deal canceled.' I don't see that changing...

Then there is the amount that companies sue their critics, the consumers who have had poor experiences with their products and services. Companies love to threaten the consumer, and his communication channels (ISP, their upsource provider, etc), to make their critics 'disappear'. If PubWan is going to allow the exchange of data about goods and services, it implies to me a message board or forum that allows further details about 'Two for One prices on Tuesday' and 'Go to Quick Oil Change at XYZ, and get a free checkup coupon at PDQ===='. Anywhere you allow that talk, you also will get 'Quick Oil Change? Those punks put the wrong kind of Transmission Fluid in my car, and destroyed my Automatic Transmission! Then they refused to pay for repairs, even though they documented they put the bad stuff into my car!'. And that talk, anywhere you have lots of 'customers', will get companies upset... and suing, to get all those 'crazy people' quiet, and stop chasing away customers. ====

Then, I have a few questions about ambitious boys and gals from trying to drive sales from other stores to theirs, but manipulating the data put in...

Just some basic Human Engineering questions for you. ---StarPilot


FatWallet appears to be a catalog of promotional offers. PubWan is touted as a catalog of things (product "equivalence classes"), instances of things (by thing, place, time and price) and associated meta-information such as a family tree of things. Getting just this off the ground would be a major accomplishment. If it ever gets that far a next step might be a catalog of nonlinear pricing schemes, including [[|http://www.Wikipedia.org/Wiki/Twoparttariff]] and the occasional shell game. This appears to be FatWallet's spspecialtybut I envision a much greater attention to detail...a catalog of mathematical expressions of price as a function of other data. The type of information PubWan is interested in is tabular and primarily quantitative. Spreadsheet-type information, which in most cases wouldn't include complaints. For what it's worth, |LorraineLee package deals||http://www.brightidea.com/obviewidea.asp?ideaid{1947AFF6-AA8F-4648-9408-C4823D45A809}&bucketid, two-part tariffs find usUseneto be a reliable source of complaints.

Concerning disinformation and PubWan. This is to be expected given that vested interests are threatened, and given the usual Human Engineering questions. Since PubWan aims at a moving target (the "state" of the consumer marketplace) 100% reliability is not to be expected even given 100% benign participation. Fortunately, the information sought is objective and verifiable (unlike complaints). Information strategies should include a Wiki-like audit trail, statistical tests of reasonableness, and [[|http://www.geocities.com/n8chz/esl.htm directed information gathering]] designed to fill in gaps.


Humm... if you want to get PubWan off the ground, start now. Do you keep a list of your shopping? There is no better way to get something done on the Internet then to just start it. If you know you want to track certain data columns (such as, UPC, Price (before Tax), Product Name, Date Purchased, Location Purchased), then do so. I'd suggest a Excel spreadsheet, although an Access or MySQL database would be nice as well.

It is easy enough enough to export your data and present it as a web page. Or to write up a query page/engine to go through your data.

Once your PubWan Version 0 is in motion, you can inform others of like mind. Form a committee or what-not to discuss anything over looked.

WikiWorld uses a simple VersionControl system to track changes. There are plenty, some of which are free, thanks to all the computer coding world.

Honestly, PubWan is easily done, as far as the data goes. I'm a professional software developer, and work with systems that do that sort of thing all the time. Bim Bam Bang. Data collector/server done. The big deal is deciding/envisioning how people use it.

In most collaborative systems, 1% of the users are the sources... everyone else uses that 1% for their own purposes. It's the basic information eco-system. Even when anyone can contribute, the data entry is generally just too much to bother with for the average user. How many people do you think are going to want to bother with entering in all the details of their shopping? At some point, you have to stop querying the database for similar products, as the time involved due to the resulting set becomes extreme. And when you stop querying for similar products, you end up back at having to enter it by hand.

Ease of Use is the number one factor in whether the people that start to use your product, continue to use it. Information available (benefits) is the number two factor. The PubWan system will definitely have that 'information network' effect, so each person that uses it, just adds to the Informational benefit. That leaves Ease of Use for the major worry factor.

It needs a home. If you publish it, they will come. How do you want them to interface with it?

If you want to be friendly, and 'the' information portal to go to for consumer prices, publish your schema so people can get an XML export. That will give developers the ability to pull in your information into other applications and systems, raising PubWan's usefulness. If you stick to your schema, then PubWan should be able to also accept publications/updates/additions that are sent back to it in that XML format.

What would that mean? If I was interested in digital cameras, for instance, I could ask PubWan to export it's list, pull down the resulting XML data sheet, and load it up into my PocketPC, for instance. Be very helpful for shopping for a new one, wouldn't it? And I just might be one of those rare individuals that would contribute back the details of the new digital camera I purchased.

I see authorship being an issue of PubWan data. People make mistakes in entering data. That means giving them the ability to edit the data they contributed.

I see jokers and those that crap on everything else being a problem. That means being able to filter data by authors, to kill or remove 'Mr. Joe Giggles' entries that Best Buy is selling its 62" plasma screens for $1.

In a network, you may need to attach a 'reliability' rating to data reported. If more then one person reports that product at that price, hey, that would seem to be a confirmation. But as I've pointed out elsewhere, identities are fluid in the digital world, so it could just be a very board 'Mr. Joe Giggles', going through and registering 12 different Alter Egos so he can raise up his joke that Best Buy is selling 62" plasma screens for $1.

When dealing with reliability, do you give the lucky person a black mark because they found a $1000 product with a mislabel that priced it at $10.00? (My girlfriend has done this a couple of times. Lucky her. ;-)

It is easy collecting the data and publishing it. What isn't easy is the Interface, and the Interaction. That's what really needs to be modeled, and determined.

Personally, I rather like everyone that want to use PubWan, denotes a small piece of their computer, as in the FreeNet model. Everyone automatically contributes that use it, that way, and the whole system is 'free'. But that's a highly technical implementation.

So... let's see that data dictionary draft. And let's generate some use cases... :D ---StarPilot


Contents

PubWan project and related pages

Design Specification

ToDo: New Pages Needed

PubWan Database:


To borrow some nomenclature from the spook set, I|'ll also try to make you some PubWanSources and PubWanMethods.

What is PubWanSources and PubWanMethods for, LorraineLee? To me|, PubWanSources suggest data sources, and PubWanMethods suggest methods or processes inside PubWan.


It is exciting to see some progress==== I've a little stocking stuffer for PubWan, a database, http://www.xanthus.net/phpAdmin user PubWan pswd ====

StarLee

(ToDo: should be changed at some time for localhost and %)

-- JimScarver


ToDo: Refactor this page so that the project and related pages are near the top.


Perhaps there are some like minded people out there...

"This project focuses on one aspect of the need, namely the harnessing of information technology to enable consumer organizations to become more effective in their work through information sharing, development of a consumer protection network, cataloguing and dissemination of information on consumer rights, and gathering and organization of information about products, services, and vendors."

http://www.apnic.net/mailing-lists/s-asia-it/archive/2001/06/msg00004.html


Pages that refer to PubWan

<?plugin BackLinks noheader|||=1 ?> TourOfWikiWorld


The [[|http://www.earthsave.org/lyman/]], seeks to provide a central(|CentralView CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS RESEARCH PROJECT (CARP)||http://home.earthlink.net/~avkrebs/CARP/#anchor3, a project sponsored by Voice for a Viable Future), accurate and in-depth source of information on corporate agriculture's economic, social and environmental impacts on family farmers, rural communities, ecosystems and consumers.


Re-code.com http://www.re-code.com/ is an interesting variant of this idea, I think. -- MarkDilley


Thank you sosomuch MarkDilley for the referral to re-code. It is essentially pubwan. Too bad the intellectual property mafia successfully shut it down. On a (we hope) happier note, I| have learned of the existence of another pubwan-like project:

http://www.consumerium.org


Hmm, on second inspection, re-code is not essentially pubwan. But referrals to even the less reputable parts of the dissident community are still appreciated.

Check out the (somewhat) new page on what (essentially) pubwan is...

http://geocities.com/n8chz/whatis.htm

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