- Facebook Zero (short story): Two longtime friends make a bet to see who can be the first to get every single person on their friends list to unfriend them. They proceed with increasingly poisonous political rants, sexist imagery, racial slurs and personal attacks. Their respective friend counts decline quickly. They’re neck-and-neck, whittling down the lists, trying to offend those last few holdouts. Big turn at the end: They end up more popular than ever.
- Facebook post where I argue with myself back and forth through nested comments, using emoticons to distinguish the personas.
- I invite Facebook friends to decide on my behalf various propositions with regard to political philosophy, political affiliation, level of religious adherence and denomination, attitudes on race and gender, and so on. I pledge to adhere to the results, which are computed by an assessment of the quality of expression and clarity of thought of the arguments presented as judged by an independent panel of rhetoricians.
- Facebook “Beliefs” tab: You can list all of the things that you won’t really be convinced otherwise about. Automatically block alternative viewpoints from filtering through.
- “Get of out jail” card: Enables its holder to get out of participating in internet memes like the ice bucket challenge and its imitators, 10 books that influenced you, “repost this if you…” and other chain letters. To use the card, you just have to tag five people.
- NeedSomeSpacebook: Sign up to receive very specific items of news regarding your ex. You receive an annual digest announcing whether their family members or pets have died, along with news of remarriages and new tattoos.
- A website idea: “I do not fucking love science, and that is why I almost failed summer-school physics, but I do have a healthy respect for it, the way I would a deadly adder, along with skepticism from the knowledge that the truths that we espouse today will be looked back as dreadfully incomplete in the not-too-distant future; and if you fucking love science so much, why don’t you fucking marry it?” (Aside: The “adder” is a venomous snake, native to Britain, with interesting mathematical implications. Would a “multiplier” be even more deadly?)
- Quantified self tracker for monitoring and tracking emotional responses to Facebook posts. Gives you a read on what FB is doing to your mood; identifies people whom you’d be better off without; compares notes with others to see if your impressions match; find out what others in aggregate really think of you.
- Analyze the profiles and attendance records for Meetup, cross-reference with weather patterns, location data. Come up with predictors for the number of people expected to sign up on any given week.
- Automated process for harvesting from public photos various images and measurements of celebrities, and then converting them into 3-D models that can be posed as needed for non-infringing derivative artwork.
- XeroxMyButt: User photographs and uploads posterior shots; algorithm identifies the center of the spheroids and then applies a flattening filter; options for monochromatic or color output.
- Ridealong: Match drivers with an electronic conversation partner who knows the area and who has a pleasant personality. The “ridealong” sees your geolocation on a map, provides turn-by-turn directions and comments on what you’re seeing. One-to-one radio. Recommendations for what to do, where to go, local stories. You don’t have to look at the screen because someone else is looking on your behalf. No more robotic mechanical voice “make a left.” Mutual rating system, barter system, and premium tier.
- Bankbook: A banking version of Facebook that shows balances and transactions as textual activities, with prompts for further information. “How was your dinner?” “Who else was with you?” Over time, tracks how much you’ve spent at a given vendor. “You’ve spent $x on buses and $x on taxis this month, up x% from last month.” “You owe $100,000 – which based on your debt reduction history over the past seven years, will take you 28 years to repay – at which point you will be 72 years old.”
- Open-source version of Zombies, Run! app, with generalized version of combining content with location based on triggers, caches, recognition of other users, etc. It’s a form of playwriting that’s triggered by real-life events.
- Private social network to arrange neighborhood art tours, with house visits to view personal art collections. Vetting and mutual rating system to maintain quality and to reduce exposure to potential theft. Includes mechanism for sale or trade.
Flashcards / Spaced Repetition Software (SRS)
- A set of spaced-repetition flashcards with artistic exercises – e.g. “draw a hand” – on them. On the back would be a rubric for how far to push the card into the future, not based on recall but rather on enjoyment of the exercise. Cards for use of different materials, parts of anatomy, approach to perspective. Cards can be accessed in batch mode, so that multiple cards can be worked into a single piece.
- Programmatically scrape Wikipedia for content to build knowledge trees. Provide interactive interface to visualize areas of activity and lack thereof across a wide range of subject areas. Prompts user to build up areas of weakness.
- Efficient method to populate a flashcard deck of physical entities (e.g. trees, mammals, birds, reptiles, insects) with Google Images. For each term, show the top image results, and then allow user to select the best image and put it onto a card. Useful for creating decks for foreign language study.
- Ethnicity detection training kit. You’d be presented with pairs of people and a single descriptor, which applies only to one or the other. Could be adapted for any number of frequently mistaken pairs.
- Phenotype training. Flashcards for recognizing distinctive facial features, e.g. upturned noses, square jaws. Fosters ability to look at someone, discern key facial features, and then recreate the visage using software or sketching.
- Import contents of social media network into SRS. Ask, for each person in friend list: Do you have something to say to this person? “Yes” leaves the person in the queue until you say it. “No” puts the person into tomorrow’s queue, or the next week’s, or the next month’s, or the next year’s. Metadata provides socialization score based on how frequently and broadly you communicate.
- Import obituaries of interest into a deck of commemoration.
- Tool that analyzes any given foreign-language text, returning as flashcards the specific grammar references required to learn the structures and vocabulary required to read it.
- Custom digital audio workstation and keyboard for language learning, as the digital equivalent of analog workstations in university language labs. Automatic clip detection to identify words, group them into phrases, automatically assign to keys, use the sliders and knobs to control various aspects of playback and sequencing.
- Games based on what3words (a web service that assigns a set of three words to every 3m2 square plot on the planet) Spell out the nouns in a book: Take a text, extract all w3w keywords, group into pairs of three, map those locations and examine the underlying patterns. Or, work backwards: write a story using w3w locations as a writing prompt.
- Terrain Game Construction Kit: A generalized version of token-and-map-based card games.
- Drinking Game Construction Kit: Select optimal consumption triggers based upon frequency analysis on relevant corpus (e.g. TV scripts, reality show transcripts, political speeches). Customize for desired consumption levels, ramp-up vectors, party type, number of participants, target level of drunkenness desired, distribution of results among participants.
- High-end $20 artisan popsicles created with flavored mineral water. Collectable popsicle sticks manufactured using custom-etched automated printing.
- Artisanal fabric diaper delivery service with matching concert t-shirts for aging boomers.
- Jewshi: Jewish-themed sushi restaurant using ingredients such as gefilte fish, lox, potato pancakes. Proprietary “oy sauce.”
- Museum-shop tattoo parlor provides patrons with ready flash art for any of the museum’s major attractions (e.g. Hammering Man, Ampersand, Byzantine Virgin Mary, Lusty Lady, whatever you want, we’ve got Richard Serra over here, get Serra on your skin folks).
- KrapKey: App gives you a password that permits entry to a clean bathroom in public places. Local merchants given incentive through some mechanism to give you the restroom key even if you don’t buy anything.
- The Turdis: “Evacuate!” Uber for high-end mobile bathrooms. Facility in shuttle bus picks up tourists and takes them to their destination in a clean facility on wheels.
- PurseBot: It’s a purse, it’s a drone. While you’re out on the dance floor, it hovers around the rafters and takes aerial photos.
- Chugger Chaffer: Collect donations online and from area merchants, and offer the money to people who agree to chaff the chugger (=charity mugger, i.e. clipboard-wielding public nuisances) for x minutes. Need some way to confirm that the deed was done through recordings. Offer a bonus for the funniest clips.
- Uber for hitchhikers, with choice of payment options. “Gas, Grass or Ass: Nobody Rides for Free.”
- iFan: A folding fan that attaches to an iPhone, upon which you can project characters, to-do, symbols, etc as a means of personal expression.
- Google Crass: Automatically scan faces in public and perform real-time searches for look-alikes in the world of adult entertainment. Clips play in a peripheral pop-up window.
- Google Mirror: See someone wearing an article of clothing that you like? Image search will find out where they bought it, and give you option to have it delivered to your house in your size.
- Music Bank: A retail outlet where you can consult with a music expert to help you to fill your playlists, to talk about tastes, to match you with artists and other fans, to suggest concerts, to help you to pick between Rhapsody, Spotify, etc., to evaluate your music collection.
- Basement Tapes: Hyperlocal music. Videos of popular song covers performed oblivious of copyrights and royalties, distributed privately, presumably fair use, for social network connections.
- Veneerstock: A music festival consisting entirely of cover bands.
- Rock opera based on the works of William T. Vollmann.
- Guitar music for yoga studios. How hard can it be?
- A portrait wedding: A professional artist sets up in the middle of the aisle. Easels are made available for selected guests, and drawing materials are given to all seated. For the first 40-minute session, the groom and family files in and they sit for a family portrait. The second 40-minute session adds the bride’s family to the tableau. Finally, the bride arrives for the final session. The wedding party sits for an extended pose. No words are spoken for the entire two hours.
- English translation of Japanese guidebooks to weddings, which contain extensive guidance on a highly intricate etiquette. For the U.S. audience, an adaptation would provide a light look at how you, too, can have a Japanese-style wedding here in America, complete with set formal speeches, etc. Includes illustrations and lists.
- Translate books about the secrets of the Jews (apparently a popular genre), consolidate and rewrite using Talmudic meta-commentary, and have translated back into Japanese.
- Translate Philip Roth into Biblical Hebrew, inscribe on vellum scroll. Alternatively: translate into Yiddish, on early 20th century newsprint in the style of The Forward; or translate into medieval Latin on illuminated manuscript.
- Shtetland: Study center in Eastern Europe where American Jews can commune with their ancestors while confronting fears and combating realities of anti-Semitism.
- Money and Banking in the Age of Heroes: Superheroes appear on Earth, causing a major financial panic. The very existence of a superhero, no matter how benevolent, increases the risk premium for holding real assets. This makes it harder for dealers to roll over money-market funding, MMMFs break the buck, all sorts of bad things happen. Meanwhile, supervillains attack a major meeting of the top minds in central banking, and the only people capable of schooling a dimwitted President is a ragtag team of Coursera students.
- A team of mighty superheroes is assembled to enforce intellectual property rights.
- Superhero idea: “Buzzkill.” Has the ability to explain why an opponent’s superpowers defy the laws of physics or common sense, thus rendering said opponent impotent.
- Philip Roth assembles a literary cabal to select the next Philip Roth. Candidates include Roth-like personas of various genders, ethnicities, and self-pleasuring techniques. Grand prize is to be the anointed ghostwriter tasked with cranking out “undiscovered” Roth novels after he’s dead. A literary version of Wonka’s chocolate factory.
- An astronaut is made aware of an asteroid rushing toward Earth threatening mass extinction, and is asked to do something heroic in a desperate bid to save the planet. But the request for self-sacrifice is only a drill, just to see if the astronaut is willing to press the self-destruct button. We learn that the astronaut is part of a planetary defense system, a nuclear minefield with human-activated triggers. Psychological study of human landmines.
- A man with a dog’s penis has an apologetic conversation with the woman in whom he is currently stuck. “Sorry, I really meant to keep the hose around just in case of this very eventuality.” He shares his unusual sexual history whilst in congress.
- A global chamber of commerce pushes to eliminate low-volume and/or low-income languages in favor of high-income alternatives. Or has it already happened?
- The Yeshiva Bucher of Wall Street. A day trader discovers a way to predict the future movement of financial instruments using Biblical kabbalah, based on correlations between the numerical values of Torah passages and future stock prices. Investor follows that approach, becomes amazingly wealthy until things go spectacularly wrong. An inversion of Scorsese: Reverse midget-tossing, i.e. short guys team up to bowl six-footers down the hallway.
- A team of writers is hired to craft the tenets of a new religion intended to supplant the Abrahamic faiths per the specifications of wealthy libertarian technocrats.
- An aspiring writer of crime fiction places hidden recording devices in public spaces in order to study the speech patterns of street people. He discovers and foils a murder plot. Subsequently, he hears about a larger heist, something much more dangerous. But is it real? Those people under surveillance, have they found out about the bugs? Is the listener being played? Who else is listening? And is your mobile phone really turned off when the lights are off?
- A retired pornography impresario and his model wife move next to a newlywed couple; the husband recognizes them, awkwardness ensues.
- Contemporary version of Theodore Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire looking at Silicon Valley. Same indomitable urge to succeed, reptilian personalities. The Founder, The Mogul, The Benefactor.
- A Rat’s Ass: A sculptor gets an unusual commission, in a retelling of the little-known biblical story of the golden hemorrhoids and the golden rats from 1 Samuel 6:4.
- Post-apocalyptic talking animal novel, the humans having destroyed one another long ago, but not before conveying their ideologies into intelligent animals through DNA modifications and neuroscience advances. Successor species study Torah, take pleasure in mitzvoth, suffer from sin, require prayer as much as one needs food or sleep. Mutations and new species emerge, they consume each other ad infinitum.
- A dystopian YA novel in a future of right-wing ascendancy. Children escaping from desperate lands are herded onto camps where they are trained to become deadly assassins and mercenaries. They are sent back as an armed force to take vengeance against the gangs that forced them to leave their homelands. Of course, it goes horribly wrong for everyone.
- An acolyte of a Peter Thiel-like figure tries for years to come up with a satisfactory answer to the question: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on.” He finally comes up with what he believes to be an original answer — that the institution of slavery would act as a necessary corrective to the perpetual-growth economic model that relies upon unsustainable consumerism for its continuance. He gets funding, launches startup, melts brains.
- Tigers having been hunted to extinction, a new meme takes root, that eating ground-up Jewish penises will help you get into Harvard.
- Retelling of the Admiral Perry “Black Ships” expedition to Japan, from the point of view of the hunted whales.
- Dogs Playing Poker. The backstory leading up to the big game, which features heads-up display of hole cards in Texas hold ‘em showdown.
- The 72: a 300-style treatment of the story of the creation of the Septuagint. It’s the 3rd century BCE in the court of Egypt’s King Ptolemy II, and the court librarian wants a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. Ptolemy sends gifts to Jerusalem, and in exchange the priests send 72 scholars – six from each of the twelve tribes. They sequester the scholars individually, but 72 days later, they all come up with the exact same Greek translation. Ptolemy rewards translators and they go home. The story is told using a black, white and red palette with frequent slow motion scenes, ink blots like bloodstains, computer enhanced imagery, huge digitally-composted crowd scenes.
- It Gets Weirder: Patterned after “It Gets Better,”a series of YouTube videos show old people talking directly to young people about the psychedelic drugs they’ve taken, and how decades later, they’re kinda OK.
- SaaS infrastructure to support custom publishing projects for global clients, including support for graphics, editing, copyediting, list management, printing, and international distribution.
- A library of custom stock art covering modern financial technology topics (i.e. something other than various icons of a bank branch with pillars under a pediment).
- Diagrams and illustrations of the underlying mechanisms of money, banking and payments, as the finance equivalent of medical illustrations.
- 3D rendering of the banking industry, programatically generated by XML file, enabling fly-throughs. Build library of images and animations of various processes and techniques.
- The Banker’s Graphic. A visual publication that combines B2B and B2C coverage of financial services through illustrations and visuals, making fintech relevant to ordinary people while remaining relevant to decision-makers in financial services.
- There’s a stock photo image that the Financial Times uses whenever it mentions a certain Portuguese bank. It’s a woman in a skirt climbing a set of stairs in front of the bank. The bank logo is out of focus. The focal point of the image, the eyepath defined by the stairs and the location of the horizon line – all of these draw the eye directly to the woman’s posterior. Thus my idea for a whole collection of pin-up drawings of women posed in front of the world’s leading banks.
- Paintings that look like a tear-off-tab flyer for a LOST DOG, placed in situ around the neighborhood.
- Ultrarealistic Internet meme paintings, e.g. Batman slaps Robin, Willy Wonka, Rick Astley.
- Large-format oil paintings of the marketing materials I’ve developed for financial technology clients.
- Cake of the Sabine Women. Self-portrait surrounded by women feeding me birthday cake in a Roman setting. (A commemorative reimagining of my birthday, which according to Plutarch, was the date of the rape of the Sabines.)
- Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood reimagined: Kerry Park with a Roman amphitheater, Queen Anne Ave. lined with monumental archways.
- Poster of “Multi-Million-Dollar Residences of Queen Anne.”
- Copies of famous Chinese landscapes, almost completely layered with thick smog.
- Landscape paintings overlaid with desktop and taskbar icons.
- Oil paintings of landscapes recreated in Minecraft, including assemblage of creatures.
- Come up with an brilliant idea and research its commercial applications. Write a detailed business plan, including market analysis and financial projections. Record an hourlong video of the investor pitch and play it for a nude model holding a pose. Create figure painting titled “Pondering an idea with important commercial applications.”
- Draw all of the OYC professors.
Open Yale Coursework
- Open Yale Coursework (OYC) project: Take all of their open courses and complete a project related to each one. 42 classes (call it 40), 5 classes per year = 8 years. At least this time, I can’t get rejected.
- Semester I [courses completed 2014-2015]:
Cervantes’ Don Quixote
Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
African American History: From Emancipation to the Present
Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature
Introduction to Ancient Greek History
Introduction to Theory of Literature
- Semester II [in progress 2016]:
Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior
The Atmosphere, the Ocean, and Environmental Change
France Since 1871
European Civilization, 1648-1945
- Semester I [courses completed 2014-2015]:
- Learn how to chant the Torah, and read a portion in front of an actual congregation. [Project for “Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible),” completed August 2015.]
- Who was Barsabbas? [Project for “Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature,” completed August 2015.]
- An appreciation of Cervantes on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death (April 22, 2016). [Project for “Don Quixote.”]
- Next Year in La Mancha: This year’s Passover Seder coincides with the 400th anniversary of the death of Cervantes. And that’s why we need a supplement for this year’s Haggadah.
- Why I believe that Don Quixote was narrated by a dog.
- The converso question: Was Cervantes Jewish, does it matter?
- Novelization of the “ancient emnity” between the Athenians and the Aeginetans. From Herodotus: The sole survivor of the Athenians’ failed raid on the Aeginetans returns to Athens with an unbelievable story about earthquakes and thunder, madness and frenzy. The Athenian widows each in turn stab the man with their long brooch pins, asking “Where’s my husband?” [Project for “Ancient Greek History.”]
- Artwork for “ancient emnity.” Given that the removal of the brooch-pins would cause the women’s togas to fall, revealing their breasts, this topic would make a great history painting.
- Screenplay for Smokey and the Bandit reboot. [Tentative project for “African-American History: From Emancipation to the Present.”]
- An African-American “Bandit” is chased by racist white cops.
- Instead of transporting beer or the like, Bandit takes women with unwanted pregnancies across state lines to abortion clinics.
- Reversal: Bandit is a human trafficker. Sheriff is foiled by corrupt truckers, an indifferent bureaucracy, and an adversarial public.
- TBD [Project for “Introduction to Theory of Literature”]
- Unfinished: I list all of the ideas I’ve had over a period of years, either documenting my failure to complete them as a way to move on; or spurring a greater level of commitment and action on selected ideas.
- Design an social tagging and sorting system for new ideas. Publish ideas to a website/app, and allow invited connections to swipe right/left for each idea. Instructions: “Do you like this idea?” “Would you like to see this in the world?” Overlay with tagging mechanism to show people ideas similar to the ones they’ve already liked. Deploy as a pre-Kickstarter incubation mechanism.