It all boils down to trust.
Long long ago, actually not so long ago, the internet was just becoming popular - which was less than 50 years ago today! There were “web sites” cropping up left right and centre. They had “web addresses”. If you knew the web address you could find the site. Nowadays the whole of internet seems to have converged on a handful of websites, with a search engine like Google acting as the gateway. But this was not always the case.
Fun fact, Google is barely even an adult at 24 years of age as of 2023.
The websites that came up provided services of one form or another. To be found, they were listed in directories, very akin to the famous Yellow Pages. So if you wanted a list of plumbers, I would go to the plumbing section and I would find the website plumber advertising their service. Or classifieds - a common place people to advertise their services.
But what of the websites of fun?
How do you share that super cool website that you found with your friends and let everybody know about it? You talk about it on your website. So everyone who visits your website knows about the cool stuff that you found when you ”browsed” the web. Your friend, who has different interests, has their own list of cool websites. You also want the world to know about her cool websites, so you link to her website which lists her amazing website discoveries. Congratulations, you just created the first link on the Webring.
“… a collection of websites linked together in a circular structure, and usually organized around a specific theme,…”
“… mainly viewed as a relic of the early web of the 1990s…”
The early internet was a wild wild place. If you didn’t know your path you would easily get lost. Most of the times this was a new adventure. Sometimes not. Having some trusted friends would be very helpful in these lawless lands.
So this guy called Phil introduced this concept of a Web of Trust. Basically, you setup and announce a group of people as people you trust, and they do the same, and so on. So if Sarah trusts Rahul and Rahul trusts Sudha and Sudha trusts Nemo, then Sarah also (somewhat) trusts Nemo.
“…will cause the emergence of a decentralized fault-tolerant web of confidence for all…”
- guy called Phil
Notice the resemblance to a social network. This is a social network. A friend of a friend is a friend.
Now, if a friend of a friend happens to be a carpenter, would you not go to her for advice for your cabinet fixtures rather than a stranger who owns the woodworking shop? No seriously, the woodworker is going to be biased to maximise his business right, so how do you trust his words on anything carpentery? Moreover, if this friend happened to use a particular brand of veneer for their cabinets themselves, isn’t that the absolute highest order of endorsement of the said brand?
What if you could leverage such endorsement - reviews from a trusted source. Find the closest people be traversing your network and see what they are using to give direction to your decision.
Why would your friend of friend (of friend?) tell you his favourite brand of fountain ink pen? What’s his motivation? Pure altruism? Come on.
No. This friend just happens to have listed down all the brands and products he has used and the ones he’s using now. Because he likes to 1) keep track of things while he 2) discovers new things. You know, like GoodReads.
Bamboozle. This whole long article is basically a pitch for the following idea.
Imagine an app that can track all the brands you interact with and gives you summary stats. A brand counter. The brands you use for phone, toothpaste, TV, shoes, so on. Like calorie counter. You input the details. No automatic tracking stuff.
Imagine this with a network: You compare with friends what they are using. More importantly, you can search for something you want to buy and get brand recommendations from your network.
The incentive for the individual user is tracking. People love tracking stuff . Calories, steps, screen time, books read.
Best review for a product: people in your circle using it.
Come, let’s build it. It’s going to be fun. I promise.