I Am Making Progress

documenting a new internet venture from day one

My very first “pivot”

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After six months of pursuing Hear The Scene (HTS) I am beginning my very first pivot maneuver. For those who aren’t familiar with the term “pivot,” I would just define it as a significant change in a business strategy after a significant attempt at a previous one. In my last post I summarized the story of HTS finishing off with the issues that are currently leading to its demise. The two main issues are the difficult and time consuming nature of the process for adding new events into the database and the lack of user engagement (or just simply the lack of traffic). If only one of these two issues were present we probably would have soldiered on, but the combination was too much.

At long last here it is: my idea is for a user-driven, event review website. A user can come to the site and browse upcoming and past events, artist and venue pages. The types of events covered in the site will be “the arts” in general: music, visual arts, theatre, etc. They can read reviews or sign up for an account and write reviews of past events. Ratings for future events will be calculated based on the ratings given to similar events (same artist and/or venue) that have previously occurred. The users may add media to artist, venue and event pages by simply copying and pasting a url from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud or Bandcamp. They may also upload photos of the events/artists/venues. All of the event, artist and venue data will be inputted by the users. Users will have profiles which will be stylized to give the feel of a music or art review blog and they can follow/friend one another and comment on each other’s reviews.

I have yet to name the site, so instead of continually referring to “the idea” or “the new site” let’s just call it EventReview.com or “ER” for short (btw if you actually visit www.eventreview.com it just says “elastic1”. heh). I don’t believe there will be the need to create any new web technology, rather I plan on combining different technologies and approaches used by several existing sites to create ER. The recipe for ER will be something like one cup Eventful/Zvents, one cup Yelp, a quarter cup of YouTube and maybe a teaspoon each of Facebook and Tumblr. I plan on keeping some of the database structure we used in HTS for ER, but there will be several more tables inside of it. Most notably, ER will have an interactive user community. That aspect alone will be a much more complex set of linked tables than anything we had to create for HTS.

ER will solve the two basic problems of HTS. User engagement will be driven by ever changing content, a social network, up to date event listings with helpful reviews and media and the ability to easily create their very own music/art critic blog embedded in a thriving (hopefully) social network. The problem of entering events will no longer be an issue as all the content will be added by the users.

I believe a key to having a user driven (or crowd sourced) site like this be successful is that the users need incentives to add the content. In future posts I will expand upon this, but the basic incentive method I am planning on using is to give the users recognition for adding content, particularly content that proves to be popular and highly rated. This recognition can come simply as publicly displayed statistics, but I am planning on getting a bit more creative than that.

The fact that events come and go and restaurants and other establishments are essentially static, is one place where we will be tackling something new with ER as compared to Yelp or Citysearch. My plan for calculating future event ratings based off of similar past events seems to address this issue. Since this is one of the areas where I really am dealing with a new problem (at least to my knowledge it’s new?), it will receive a great deal of my attention.

So that’s the super quick summary of the new idea. I haven’t decided yet what format I am going to follow in the next few posts. In no particularly order here is a list of topics I want to discuss.

  • site layout and flow
  • user incentives
  • creating a social network
  • the database
  • programming tools
  • programming languages I plan to use and why
  • graphic design
  • the skills needed to pull this off, where I excel and where I come up short
  • technical road map
  • website name!
  • making friends and finding partners
  • business plan => getting funding

That’s a lot of stuff and most of it is really just preliminary topics! I feel very drawn to want to write about the programming languages and what tools I am going to use. I think the better route will be to discuss the higher level stuff first; the site layout and flow, my plan for the social network and the incentives. 

Til next time,

-pat

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