Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Distributed drinking, better than virtual drinking but still quite sad.

According to facebook:

Ken Coar has just compared you with one of his friends and thinks you are more entertaining.
I'm not quite sure how to react to this, its weirdness is freaking me out in many ways, but perhaps I should send him a virtual drink via one of the many facebook apps that let you do that.

All good clean fun, but virtual drink doesn't really get you very drunk does it? (No) So this is what we have to do. Instead of using it as an online social metaphor think of it instead as an actual protocol to enable distributed drinking.

Tally up all those virtual drinks your friends have sent you then at 5:05pm nip down to the pub and buy yourself the same list of drinks.

That was my first prototype but empirical data measured in the pub shows that it is wide open to abuse. I inadvertently sent 72 tequilas to 24 people the other day owing to a defect in one of these apps, and while I'm happy to buy tequila for my friends I wouldn't want to overdo it, and I could force you to spend all of your money on drink.

So we need to add robustness and accountability by introducing a contract of reciprocity that will ensure participants don't place on other participants an unacceptable burden which they themselves would not be willing or able to shoulder.

Furthermore analysis suggests that a risk to corporate security or business continuity exists because industrial saboteurs might attempt to exploit this vulnerability to launch dangerous Denial of Service attacks on their competitors.

British companies are already extremely suspicious of facebook (here) and we wouldn't want to fan the flames of corporate paranoia would we? (we would?)

Luckily for us The Native British Pub Goer has already invented a subtle and imaginative methodology, The Round of Drinks, that social institution which allowed the British to subjugate large parts of the world without taking their hands off their gin's and tonics by creating a finely tuned feedback loop of consumption and capability.

More money = more drink, too drunk = no job, no job = no money. Many people will recognise the audible signal that the feedback is working: "I'll just having the one tonight, I have a big day at work tomorrow."

So how do we adapt this to wrest a bit of real life back from the faceless facebook?

Simple, create a pub "event" and let people sign up. At 5pm on the day shuffle off to the pub and buy yourself the appropriate number of drinks.

Calculating the correct number, like predicting the weather, is a chaotic problem but this is normally ok because the behaviour of people in pubs is a chaotic solution (no shit), but also just like predicting the weather a piss poor approximation is usually close enough.

So we'll make some initial, and fairly arbitrary assumptions,
a) everyone turns up,
b) they all stay all night, and
c) everyone buys one round.

So now buy yourself exactly the same number of drinks as there are participants no more no less, drink them safe in the knowledge that everyone else is drinking the same amount, and then go home.

You'll quickly find that you will tend to steer clear, or withdraw from, events with a very large number of participants, or actively encourage others to attend when numbers are low.

It may not be the social interaction of our youth, but it beats online social networking hands down by having real drink, and making you wait for hours in the rain for a taxi home.

Friends, if you have read this far let me apologise, sincerely, for wasting your valuable time.


Anonymous said...

No, that's OK. But we could go social engineer Ken to find out which of his Facebook friends he think's you're more entertaining than. I hope it's just not me (although it well might be, since I don't drink that much.

Unknown said...

Yeah, its going to keep me awake at night wondering who I'm more entertaining than.

Justin Mason said...

Well, at least nobody's been turned into a zombie yet...

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