Matt Gemmell

My new book CHANGER is out now!

An action-thriller novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

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Collaborative Pimping System

University 1 min read

Late last week I sent a proposal via email for my HCI4 project, which requires the creation of a simple collaborative system of some kind. I heard today that the project was approved, so I thought I’d share the proposal for your enjoyment.

Here’s the email I sent to Phil, quoted in its entirety:

Hi Phil,

I didn't get a chance to talk to either you or Matthew during the HCI4 lecture today, so I thought I'd run my idea by you via email instead. :)

Basically, it's a variant of a collaborative calendar system, but with a social focus, and incorporating knowledge of whether a person is present in a building (the Boyd Orr, say). I often find myself wanting to take a coffee break, but I'm unsure which young lady in the year is available to join me at that time (I say that very optimistically, of course).

My idea would be for each agent in the system to know its owner's module choices for 4th year, and thus know (via looking up a standard timetable) what hours that person was potentially free during the week. There would also be some sensor system (I could just use simulated data for that part) which would detect when the person was physically present in the Boyd Orr or Lilybank Gardens; or perhaps just logged onto a machine on the network, via checking the finger command periodically. Presumably the user could also explicitly set themselves to be unavailable, regardless of timetable and physical presence, when they were busy (or just avoiding me, more to the point).

Thus, at any time, I could ask my system for potential coffee partners (maybe filtering by various obvious criteria), and it would present me with a list (and ideally, photos) of those who may be free. I could then contact them via whatever means to make the invitation. I feel obliged to acknowledge that such a system would have to incorporate an MSN-like "block list", so that people could filter out unwanted invitations, which would probably decrease my success rate a bit. Ah well.

Does that sound at all like the kind of thing you're after? Could be a funny demo anyway.


Phil rightly noted that some of the primary issues to consider would be keeping user distraction to a minimum, and privacy. Ladies, start your block lists.