||The History Behind Broadcatch
Social Advertising (1994)
Social Advertising uses broadcatch agents to facilitate resource discovery
& use, building trusted communities through personal and
"market-driven" selection with authenticated reputations and
shared interests as a basis.
Current research in networked information access is making great strides in
providing the ability to create personal, shareable views onto the universe
of information available on the Internet. One of the major problems
confronting each of these systems is that of resource discovery: how do you
find something if you don't know here to look for it?
WAIS (Kahle & Medlar, 1991) offers indexes, but the indexes must first be
located (through a hierarchy of server directories), and secondly the
manner in which the files are indexed may not be suitable to every
Prospero (Neuman, 1992) and the World Wide Web (CERN, ?) give personalized
views that may be shared, so you can choose your own "expert editors" for
each field that you are interested in, and even become one yourself. But
finding the experts in the first place is, again, a bit of magic.
Tapestry (Goldberg et al., 1992) allows you direct access to human
collaborators that can aid you in your filtering, but the system is
designed mainly for filtering information as it comes in -- less so for
user initiated searches.
What all these systems can benefit from is a mechanism for advertising
questions as well as sources of answers.
Imagine sitting at your Mosaic client, and you want to find out what the
exact dimensions of an official Ultimate Frisbee playing field are. It
might take a while through standard means to find this -- in fact, you
might end up giving up before finding the URL
One common fallback mechanism is to post your request in a related Usenet
conference. Unfortunately, there is no frisbee news group,
and you might not know that aficionados generally prefer
the more generic term disc and thus overlook
So you give up and post your request in rec.games.misc or, more probably,
in some totally unrelated newsgroup but one in which you feel comfortable
along with an apology for the off-topic request.
With Social Advertising, the scenario is a bit different. Again, let's
start with the Mosaic client, but now we do something new: we open a page
with the Social Advertising request form, and type in our request:
Social Advertising: Request Page
KEYWORDS: games, outdoor, ultimate frisbee, rules
REQUEST: what is the size of the playing field?
This request gets posted on a virtual bulletin board, along with your
return address. The keywords line is not required, but it helps
automatic agents parse and file your request where it can be handled most
If someone has posted a resource page including, say, ultimate frisbee,
then there could be a direct match right away, and the URL would be
returned to you automatically. Such a page may look like this:
Social Advertising: Resource Page
KEYWORDS: games, ultimate frisbee, rules
TITLE: UPA Rules of Ultimate, 9th Edition
URL: https:// ...path elided... /ultimate-rules.html
However, if there were no such match, the request would be orphaned,
and there would exist services (and people) who would be interested in finding
results for orphan pages.
Building a Community
One of the goals of Social Advertising is to aid in the building of virtual
communities. So far, we have described a mechanism wherein people can help
each other find things, but why would people choose to do so? Or, more
specifically, what's in it for them?
Here are three answers to this question,
but we believe there are more:
- Advertising one's resources is generally advantageous.
- As you help others who have similar interests,
you can keep track of them and perhaps use them
as a resource at a future date.
- With the advent of a digital credit (or cash) system,
people will be able to get paid for the information
they provide, or even the meta-information
of directing others where to look.
Note that (2) is a community builder. Both sides increase their sum of
information at this point, as each learn of a source of potential future
collaboration in similar areas (or, if the information is bad, a source
perhaps to ignore in the future!).
This is where cooperation begins to come into play.
But first, a brief statement regarding personal privacy.
In the scenario above, we assume that return addresses are available for
all parties, as the agents must know where to return found information, and
as part of the cooperative step, provide a handle upon the source for
future use. But as the set of questions or resources one advertises
enlarges, profiles can be built that compromise one's privacy. Further,
there are some questions one simply may not ask for fear of reprisal.
The Social Advertising process depends upon authenticatable pseudonym
servers and anonymous bulletin boards for the provision of a high degree of
More on this is outside the bounds of this introduction.
Personalized fitness functions and market driven selection mechanisms help
the user build a trusted community of resource discovery systems. These
filters may themselves be discovered through resources found through Social
We believe that access to information in a manner determined by the
accessor and not by the provider, along with the ability to communicate and
share information without fear of reprisal are essential elements of a free
and open society, and the first steps towards a well-educated and
Page Created: Tuesday, March 8, 1994
Social Advertising puts the power of information access into the hands of