Monday, May 28, 2007

The thrill of success

Since I live in the city, and work a few blocks from home, I don't get many chances to go loco. So right after I had booked my plane trip to attend a conference last weekend and then a rental car, I posted the trip on GoLoco: National Airport to Loyola College, Columbia Maryland. The likelihood of actually sharing the ride and rental costs was incredibly low, but at least I was trying to share.

I was shocked to see the GoLoco email 12 hours before my flight to DC: "Someone wants to join your trip." Incredibly low now modified to incredible.

I click through. His note says he is going to the International Community Wireless Summit which is the same one I'm attending. So now I know he is one of about two hundred people. And note the "he." Just like most women out there, I'm not about to jump in a car with a man I don't know. I click through to his profile.

Doesn't look like an axe murderer - whatever that might look like. And then I see that he belongs to the community. That's the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based non-profit. Then I see his blog. Hey! I know a number of people at Embarq and have had meetings there discussing wireless applications in the transportation sector. We obviously know people in common. I suppose I could have emailed them to double check. Instead, I choose "accept" and write him a note about the best place to meet up.

Success #1: Hey, hey, hey! This works! Context, content, and social networks do what we had hoped they would do.

But wait, there's more. Getting out of DC and onto the right highway to Columbia was nontrivial. I handed Rhys (my GoLoco co-pilot) the directions, kept my eyes on the road, and listened to him guide me through the quick series of lefts, rights, merges, on those blasted high speed parkways that DC loves so well. I absolutely positively would not have gotten to Loyola College without mistake without Rhys. The stress reduction probably added a couple of minutes to my life. Thanks Rhys. That was unexpected Success #2.

Expected success #3 was that he paid for a quarter of my car rental (one half of half the travel I was doing with the car) and expected success #4 was that we had a great conversation in the car about transportation, developing countries, travel, and spouses.

Now I have even more connections at WRI.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Photos, and lack thereof

As we were building the website and talking to experienced experts (instead of the inexperienced ones), we heard some amusing strategies about what it takes to get people to upload a photo:

Strategy 1: Offer up lame substitutes so that people would do anything to avoid having their name associated with that cartoon.

Strategy 2: Tell them that other people are statistically way less likely to engage with them without a photo –true.

Strategy 3: Remind incessantly. We could to do that.

Strategy 4: Embarrassment. If you don’t have a photo, your profile gives your sex and age. We are actually doing that, really.

Put in a photo! GoLoco looks so much friendlier when populated by diverse real faces rather than green and white oLos.

I’ve been trying to see if there is a pattern to those who upload photos. More photos from university communities than geographical ones? More from men than women? Age specific? Hard to tell without a real analysis which is certainly not worth the time.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What's in a Name?

Why GoLoco?

It took longer to name this company than it took to name all three of my children put together. With them, I didn’t have to worry about whether I could register the domain name, or whether people could repeat and spell the name after hearing it said once. So,

Go loco with freedom and independence, enjoying your friends and your life on your own terms
Go loco from location to location, using local locomotion (yes, there’s a Latin root there)
Go loco -- low cost and low CO2 – a way of life.

After so many months of work (which we’re already forgetting about), it is a thrill to actually see people use the service the way we intended. I imagine this is what a museum architect must feel like on opening day: “look! That person stopped right there, just as we had planned!” and “huh, they missed that cool thing entirely, what happened?”

So we are seeing missed cues, and making the necessary changes as fast as we can, and relishing the perfect moves, like this one:

David Slater posted his daily commute, every Mon-Fri, leaving around 6am, returning around 3pm with the informative note: “This is my daily commute. My hours are flexible and I would consider adjusting my hours for a daily ride share."

Yes! David, you got it exactly right. We’ve only just started and we can’t passively await a connection. Like David, I’ve posted all my routine car trips, and I’m waiting for the pleasant moment when I see the email from GoLoco telling me that someone else actually wants to join my fascinating trip between Cambridge and Hammond Pond.

And I’ve also stumbled happily across destination ideas. The Peabody Essex Museum? I haven’t been there in a year. The Crown Colony? Where in heck is that? And of course, who is going?

And relevant to nothing but a great trip comment:
“The toddler *will* be in the car, price has been adjusted accordingly.”