Friday, September 12, 2008

i want a "mylist", not craig's list

so here's a thought. my best man christian is coming to new york next weekend, and is finding it impossible to find anywhere decent to stay for less than $400/night. i have loads of friends in the city who'd probably be willing to put him up for free, or for less than $400/night, given that i can vouch for him. but i can't really spam them all with an email for this, and then something else in a few weeks. he's surfing on craigslist to try and find places, but neither party then has any independent reputation. 

why not merge craigs list with my contacts book, and add in a publish and subscribe element. so that way i can subscribe to topics that i might be interested, and know who the people are - as my  friends, or friends of friends. obviously this is the kind of thing that social networks could enable but i) none of them are comprehensive enough to include all the people in my contacts book ii) doesn't have good integration with  contacts books and ii) doesn't have a publish-subscribe element apart from the status update, which is rather a blunt instrument.  

we need a way of brokering interesting connections between people based on their collective set of interests that delivers a marketplace with enough liquidity (ie most people participate),  but also keeps  privacy and spam at bay.  another thing for the boffins to work on. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

a month to get citibank to pay itself

one of the problems with coming to america is having to remember to pay off my credit cards in time. got stung last month as i just forgot to pay one of them off - citibank mastercard. whenever i went to the site it just showed some balance and some faroff date. when it stopped working i went to the site and it looked completely normal - no message such as - you're late. i then phoned them up and they said i was in arreas. i guess i was, but they didn't make much of an effort to let me know, apart from a monthly statement email - who reads that stuff?

anyway, i asked how i could "switch on" automatic debiting as i had in uk. presumably going from my citibank current account to my citibank mastercard should be a breeze. oh no. they had to send me a form - which took a week to arrive, and then fill in loads of fields and sign it and send it back (which of course i've failed to do so far). they say it'll take about 2-3 weeks once received to process. so well over a month to allow me to pay me.

this fascination with the mail and paper pushing is rather 1970s. c'mon citibank - get with the programme, and send some of your folks to see how europe has weaned itself off the paper monster.