AltInst: Bulletin Boards for each city to relieve loneliness

From: Nicholas Albery <>
Date: Mon Jan 04 1999 - 11:21:54 PST

I am thinking of starting the following free Bulletin Board, to help
relieve the loneliness and isolation felt by many city dwellers and those
newly arriving in cities - although no doubt the same could work for rural
regions too.

Can any of you help me to design it in a way that it will avoid snags and
abuse in future? In what ways is it likely to be abused? Are the abuses
outweighed by the potential benefits? I would like it to be as
self-organising as possible, and to be able to post bulletin boards up for
most of the cities of the world, with minimum effort on my part, but as
designed at present it seems to require a certain amount of policing to
remove postings etc?

Here is my first draft:


London Bulletin Board is a free web page where Londoners can propose events
and meetings for others to sign up for. There will soon be similar Bulletin
Boards for all the major cities in the world, all reachable via the parent
web site, the Global Ideas Bank (

For instance, a message on the London Bulletin Board might read:

"I propose we go to see the Truman Show film at the Screen on Baker Street
on Wednesday Feb 10th at 7.10pm ane meet afterwards at the Cafe Uno next
door to discuss the film. Maximum 8 people, please e-mail me."

Or for instance:

"My favourite book at the moment is Leo Marks' 'Between Silk and Cyanide'.
I would like to meet others to discuss this book over a meal at the
Indonesian Restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue on Friday Feb 12th at 7.30pm.
Maxum 5, please e-mail me."

Or for instance:

"A brainstorming group on the theme of 'How to further develop the Internet
as a way for people to find compatible partners and friends' in Neal's Yard
Meeting Room, Covent Garden, on Thursday Feb 11th at 7.30pm. Share costs of
room (45 pounds). Minimum 10. Maximum 40. Please e-mail me."

The essence of the Bulletin Board is thus to encourage Londoners and
visitors to London not just to consume entertainments advertised in media
such as Time Out magazine, but to self-organise events where the
participants can make a real contribution, feel recognised as unique
individuals and perhaps form friendships with others who share their

The headings on the Bulletin Board resemble those in Time Out - FIlms,
Opera, Theatre, Books, Sport and so on - but the content's emphasis
differs. This bulletin board is for people who want, for a change, to be
active not passive, to make films or to discuss films, not just to watch
them; to write books, to share writing in progress with others, or to
discuss books, not just to read them. Not to watch someone play a sport but
to organise a neighbourhood football team or a walking group. Not a board
for restaurant reviews, but more a board to advertise, say, a pot-luck
picni in Hyde Park on Sundays.

Under 'Miscellaneous', people can add their own headings, and under any of
the headings, people can start their own threads.

There are restrictions:

(1) No passive consumer events.

(2) No commercial events (although cost-sharing is allowed).

(3) No commercial organisations.

(4) All meetings to be held in public places, for the safety of the

(5) All participation in activities advertised on the bulletin board to be
at the participant's own risk.

(6) No illegal activities are to be proposed.

(7) All events are to be for a minimum number of 3 people.

(8) No addresses or telephone numbers or names of meeting proposers are to
be published, only e-mail details, although proposers may identify
themselves by age, sex and interests if they wish.

(9) No posting to be of more than 200 words.

[[ Sounds cool. -- ed. ]]

With best wishes, Nicholas Albery <>)
The Institute for Social Inventions   |  Tel +44 [0]181 208 2853
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Received on Mon Jan 4 11:56:22 1999

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