Why and How Cavalcade is positioned as the anti-Facebook.
We did not set out trying to make another Social Network:
Mission: Be recognized as the leading mapping and Internet of Things service that helps make transportation safer and more efficient without compromising user privacy.
Facebook is on the decline. Enter Cavalcade?
Sigh. Facebook. TheFacebook. The Social Network that destroyed MySpace. The company that went from a simple premise of connecting with real-life social networks that has become the Internet behemoth of uncomfortable possibilities. A necessary evil for many of our real social lives. Let’s go through a little journey about how accurate it is to call Cavalcade as the anti-Facebook.
You’ve probably seen the movie. Let me paraphrase it for you — for the same reason I joined in 2005: As a college student at UC Davis, I could connect and communicate with my real-life dorm roommates and friends. Simple enough. We didn’t want to go to each others’ dorms and talk. We just wanted a quick way to drop a line.
Take a look at the Facebook-published mission:
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
2014: “Sense Bubbles”
I am mostly deaf. Completely deaf in the left ear and mostly deaf in the right ear. This gives me the incapability of being able to locate sound. In January 2014, I was was riding my road bicycle and realized how dangerous my inability to hear other cyclists pass with the “on-your-left” command was. I shouldn’t pass other cyclists if someone hasn’t already announced it. In short, I wanted the ability to detect cyclists from coming up from behind. Cycling mirrors are disorientating and ineffective for me. After about five months of research into software and messing about with code and frameworks, I decided to respond to the Rocket Department’s tweets about what Sacramento citizens would do to enhance lives in the region. After a brief, but formative meeting, the Rocket Department referred me to StartUp Weekend 2014 in Sacramento, CA. I pitched the idea of “Sense Bubbles” — an early prototype of what later became “MapMe.io”.
We went on to form a team of 5 and won with a hardware prototype of a ultrasonic sensor for cyclists to detect cars from coming from behind. During the course of meetings, we found that there were risks not worth taking with the hardware route and decided to focus on an all-software approach.
The first software attempt from Beacon Safety Co. was called “MapMe.io” and one of the tests was a hypothesis to gauge how individuals and emergency services would want that information. User testing persisted into 2015 and we launched 1.0 in December 2015.
MapMe.io worked on the hypothesis that people do want to use the mapping functions while travelling and be informed of safety events around them, e.g. if you’re a car driver, you want to know about those infamous split-lane motorcyclists trying to pass you.
We found out that there wasn’t much use for MapMe.io and almost no “real” incentive to keep the app open or even running in the background. It was difficult for other users to detect each other because there weren’t many users in their geographical area.
Over the years, it became clear what the business model was for Facebook: the Internet avenue for content consumption and advertisements. The value for the service has declined for many users, while improving the value for investors and 3rd parties interested in your personal lives.
According to how my Facebook feed lines up, a friend is somewhere in-between people you interact with in real-life to someone somewhere that posts a funny/provocative/political/cute/whatever-emotional-tugboat that evokes a click or a view to inform people inside and outside of Facebook what their target market is.
Then came the imitations designed for dating, work and so on. The desperation attempts from nearly every social network and search giant to dominate the Messenger space and race for relevancy in A.I.
While not everything about Facebook is bad, the business can not sustain its mission without alienating users and investors.
I believe our most fulfilling relationships are the ones we express in real-life, not online. Taking the journey of life together is far more fulfilling than expressing the desire to do x, y, z and not planning things out. We are online fatigued and lacking time away from social media and our screens. You could try moderation with Facebook and all your other online profiles, but with the rise of AI and chat bots, good luck with that.
In between 2004 and 2016, evidence for privacy abuses emerged from the Snowden revelations along with the background noise of laws worldwide enacted to combat fallacies on the existence of the Internet and its role in Society. The government should not fear open communications. That undermines liberty and free speech in a way that would have Thoreau rolling in his grave. The role of government is to shepherd innovation while allowing society to air its grievances and to facilitate problem-solving in our communities.
After the launch experience of MapMe.io, I had to evaluate how the company would proceed based on the feedback from users. So, I entered 2016 with the question: “How do I retain the core principles of Beacon Safety Co. and MapMe.io while giving improved value to users?”
Cavalcade will retain the anonymous geo-location feature, and we are adding traditional mapping features like Search and Directions. Over time, we’ll be looking at integrating public data feeds for traffic analysis for best route matching and emergency service prioritization.
Most of what MapMe.io is designed for will be in the background, served via a fluid AI/voice/visual/chat interface for Cavalcade. Let’s call this your Intelligence Amplification Assistant (IAA). He/She/It will interact with you to communicate events you need to know while measuring the values of how you want to interact with others. Those values are learned over time and are kept local to the users’ machine. When allowed, the user can upload a scrubbed classifier to a back-end that will make the default template for the IAA improved. This IAA was inspired by a lot of things, especially after reading about Conversational Commerce from Chris Messina and to finding the hardware to develop for from Sarah Guo from Greylock Partners.
We are introducing the Nomad, Cavalcade Leader and Cavalcade Member roles inside Cavalcade. With Anonymous mode, you retain the ability to declare your transportation type and basic map functions, but you won’t have any ability to set calendar appointments or directly interact with other people. With the Nomad mode unlocked, you get the calendar appointment ability. As for the Cavalcade leader and members, a set fee per month will be charged to each member and leader. That unlocks all of the features. There are more roles lined up but first we need to get the initial built out with your support!
The evidence for users needing group chat of various means along with calendaring is clearly communicated in this excellent article. I have seen the multi-tasking group meetup experience become dangerous many times. Incorporating some form of social networked groups made perfect sense while formulating the Cavalcade framework. This allows for the driver to focus on the driver task at hand while only receiving the information to keep life smooth.
I’m betting that Cavalcade will be used the IAA that helps you and your social groups stay organized by forming Cavalcade chats that are end-to-end encrypted with calendar events. The features from MapMe.io complement the IAA who gives you the information you need in real-time that’s occurring inside your Cavalcade experience. We are encouraging groups to switch from Facebook groups and Meetups to join Cavalcade as the easiest way to communicate and experience life together.
I’m also inspired by a life-long desire to have my hearing aid be that IAA. A seamless experience from smart device to hearing aid would work wonders for augmenting my life experiences and certainly improve upon them. I may filter incoming sounds for more sound processing and understanding of human speech. Later, with support from users, I would like to connect more Internet-connected things that would enable users to get more accurate, quicker or unheard of ways to acquire information. All without the need to expose user data to prying eyes or advertising needs. We’re also exploring different output options like Augmented Reality. I am excited for the possibilities this IAA could do to improve our lives and I hope we take that journey together.