I- The issues with ads and searches
It would be folly to condemn the many methods currently used on the Internet to give you what you are looking for. Taken together, they represent a major improvement over more traditional methods and will continue to serve many needs in the foreseeable future.
Yet, especially when they involve two parties, even current Internet methods have their limitations. Read on if they have failed to fully satisfy you.
I-1 time to fulfillment
Whenever another party is involved, current methods require the requester to contact this party using regular email or other traditional means of communication. This is an endless source of delays, frustrations and inefficiencies.
- searches for public information. Closure is ensured by the very finding of the required information by the requester
- searches subject to agrement. Finding the information is not enough to insure closure. The requester must also submit his or her own data to another party.
If you have ever applied for a job, you know, upon reading the message "please send your resume and you will hear from us", how castaways feel when tossing a bottle to the sea. If you realize that the email boxes of recruitment managers are often overflowing with junk mail, you may very well feel shortchanged.
The position of the other party is no better. To keep the example of recruiting, imagine a director of recruitment spots a promising resume in his or her inbox or some monster resume database, corporate or otherwise. This director can only fire an email back or try a phone call, knowing full well that you may be unimpressed by the opportunity or already unavailable and your resume out of date.
Single-sided interest is not enough but verifying mutual interest is a lot of work: "if you find someone to love, does this person love you ?".
I-2 negotiating power
Very few of your searches are as simple as they seem. Many variables come into play at once and you know that the best outcome would result from a negotiation with an other party. Yet, besides some specialized Business to Business systems, current search methods offer you little negotiating power.
Suppose you need to find a piano teacher for your child. You can search the relevant ads from piano teachers but you cannot change them. If you want to discuss the price or the time of the lessons, it will have to wait till you speak to prospective teachers. And if you were ever to state your price range publicly in an ad of your own, do you think anybody would call to take your lower limit ?
In fact current methods take away your negotiating power. For instance the timeliness issue encourages the other party to remove itself from the transaction. You do not deal with an online merchant, you order per its public catalog: "everything is here, pick what you like". eBay's auctions do give you back some power but in a very specific way: you can only negotiate on price and only upward.
Lack of negotiating power takes away your ability to make trade offs. In turn your lack of flexibility reinforces the rigidity of your counter parts. By putting searches in a "hit or miss" mode, it encourages everyone to multiply "hits" while decreasing their quality.
Removing negotiations from searches or postponing them is source of inefficiency and missed opportunities.
Searching for information used to be the domain of librarians and experts. If you have ever been helped by one, you know that the key step is to define exactly what you want. Being too precise can backfire though: if you know what you want exactly, your request may be impossible to express in an actionable format.
Short of potentially expensive professional advice, it is easy enough to throw in a few keywords at Google but it can hardly be said to replace expert advice. For good results, expect to use the "advanced search option" and spend a lot of time refining your search terms and exploring many links
Wouldn't it be better to have experts in a domain take the time to define in advance precisely what major criteria to use and how to measure them, topic by topic ? This explains the popularity of advice columns in many subjects, such as real estate and investment. It is the approach of Consumer Reports.
It does not take the decision away from you. Once you know what are all the good questions to ask, you are still free to disregard the criteria which do not apply to your case, such as durability in an appliance you plan to discard in a year. You remain free to consider others later on, such as the color of the paint on the walls in a real estate deal. But what a great way to get started.
Some of the above criticisms may appear outdated. For example most job postings come in two parts: one to help you appreciate whether the position is appealing to you and one to let you judge whether you are qualified. Isn't it how to ascertain mutual interest?
However the worst criticism is yet to come: current search methods generally tend to strip control from the individual user.
Take job postings. It is certainly up to the company to pick its criteria to judge candidates but it should be up to the candidates or expert third parties to judge how to evaluate job positions. What companies write on themselves are sales pitches, not job selection criteria. In fact when an Internet job site dares to suggest companies post the salary offered, the field often goes unfilled.
Once again the recruiting manager is no better off: if you give away some job requirements to candidates, you can expect a number of applicants to think they qualify when you won't. One-sided judgment does not guarantee mutual interest.
In an other example, public search results may be bought or manipulated by advertisers, or improved by "Big Brother" as when Amazon, in the recent past, brought to the attention of people searching for "abortion" that maybe they meant to say "adoption".
II- ePrio's solution:
II-1 timely mutual interest by design
Because tEC, the Electronic confidant, by ePrio is an email system, a search is by design an exchange of wishes between participants unknown to one another but looking to determine mutual interests among themselves.
Five features ensure this exchange occurs in a timely manner.
As seen, tEC allows two parties to both verify the satisfaction of their own wishes against the profile of the other before the end of a search and eliminates all noise or spam in the process.
- People who want to receive future opportunities based on their wishes for some domain pay a fee to guarantee their attention
- People who want to check current opportunities can in one click send their own wishes to all receivers whose wishes they satisfy
- tEC alerts the receivers to all mutual opportunities and discards all other communications in the domain at hand
- tEC gets receivers to invite senders and senders to confirm their acceptance as the only way to exchange confidential information
- the entire cycle can be run multiple times according to a fixed schedule, e.g. weekly or over the week-end, if the domain maker so chooses
II-2 negotiating under "hands off confidentiality" protection
tEC, the Electronic confidant, by ePrio is a secure email system, using peer to peer encryption. Once a sender has been granted permission to send his or her wishes by a receiver, all communications between this sender and this receiver are inaccessible to third parties, including ePrio and all its suppliers and clients.
Without this crucial feature, it would be akin to negotiating through post cards anyone along the way can read, alter, archive, repackage and resell.
tEC is also a "privacy valve". Absolutely no one besides its owner can access the profile information kept by each party. Profiles, locally encrypted, actually never leave their owners' machines.
Finally tEC keeps wishes sent by one party to the other from being seen by this other party. Once released by the sender to the sender's tEC, wishes are kept encrypted at all times, accessible only to the receiver's tEC.
Taking together these two features ensure that all the information held by one party is kept at arms' length from the other. A true negotiation can proceed between the two parties.
Take for example price or salary information.
The range acceptable to A, who proposes a job or some goods on sale, will be kept on A's machine, out of reach from anyone else. The range acceptable to B, who seeks the job or the goods, will be sent as part of B's encrypted wishes, received and processed by tEC on A's machine but kept secret from A. Only the existence of an overlap will be revealed to the two parties in case of a mutual match.
Note there is no intermediary C to whom A and B would have to entrust their profiles and wishes. While C itself may be a highly reputable company, who knows to whom and where its services and your data are outsourced ?
Actual negotiations seldom succeed on the first try. Since tEC preserves the confidentiality of both parties until they decide to go for closure, it is always possible for a user to decide against closure and go for another round. Given either a scarcity or an overabundance of mutual matches in the past round, this user will modify the wishes made or the part of the profile which can be revised and run another round.
Here are cases which happened during actual job fairs used to test tEC in Paris.
Some inexperienced candidates searching for a position as a restaurant waiter looked for full time jobs with a continuous day shift. As could be expected, they did not find any. More important, they were later able to arbitrate between a full time, continuous night shift, or full time day shift with a four hour afternoon break, or accept to work part time. This was not pure wishful thinking, based on a simple listing of job descriptions: they also learnt their qualifications were acceptable to the corresponding employers, in the employers' own judgment.
Conversely a restaurant manager was looking to fill a shift which ended two days a week after the so-called "last metro". After an inconclusive first round, he dropped that condition to accept candidates who depended on public transportation to go to work.
II-3 objective criteria & adhoc questions
In each domain of interest, a domain maker can call upon a powerful set of tools by ePrio to give users maximum precision, maximum flexibility, maximum simplicity.
First tEC formalizes the expert knowledge of each domain maker to account for all the major objective facts which inform a negotiation.
Taking for instance the real estate market, one can ask for price, location and size on the one hand, ability to pay and presence of children or pets on the other.
tEC also supports all criteria types likely to be used in practical searches. For example scoring lists can be used to express expected trade offs between multiple characteristics
(e.g., imagine some dating criteria with the following scoring list: being young, blond, tall, intelligent and rich. Users may give a 2 to each attribute and be ready to settle for a 6 out of a perfect score of 10, most will lend more weight to specific attributes ! Hobbies is another example taken from Dating in Greater Boston ).
Parties can also rely on tEC recommendations by third parties known to both, such as a local teacher or religious leader, a well-known expert or celebrity, a bonding or credit report company.
Second when end-users are known to share a well defined but extensive vocabulary, e.g. health professionals, tEC allows domain makers to define keyword-based criteria. While keyword only searches may yield surprising results (e.g. to give a boost to your resume, list travelling to Java as a hobby if you happen to be a software programmer, or mention that you love cats if you are a radiology technologist), a keyword based criteria can add flexibility to a list of more formal criteria.
Third it is possible to tack an ordinary mail function to a domain. Without revealing anything more than some special ID's, parties who have recognized a mutual match can continue the negotiation using tECmails, e.g. to send a photograph or ask a personal question.
While tECmails enjoy confidentiality with respect to third parties and can be used to ask any relevant adhoc question, they do not offer the same level of protection as the matching function. While the party who is asked an adhoc question is free to answer or not, once given in the hope to deepen the mutual interest an answer becomes known to the other party.
Custom wish lists can instead be formatted as special tEC filters, with adhoc questions and their corresponding matching criteria so as to preserve confidentiality. This fourth feature is handy when the party with adhoc questions knows its audience, while insisting on privacy, is ready to download and process its filter singly. I.e., the sender is ready to answer adhoc questions one by one as prompted by the filter while, in automatic batch processing, a profile is valid for all filters and can be filled ahead of time.
Because negotiations can be carried out over different rounds, using different tools, users can delay detailed or less objective criteria until they are worth the extra effort. e.g., in real estate, match on location and price before poring over artful photos, for used cars check out time window and location compatibility for going face to face before you go into the interior color scheme. The domain maker is responsible for streamlining the process to fit users' expectations.
II-4 user rights protection
With its innovative approach to confidentiality, tEC is designed to give control back to where it belongs:
In line with this approach, tEC offers some level of copy protection to those who need it to send information as a tECmail attachment. At present this is limited to a few supported types, mainly html pages and picture files, with the understanding that no digital copy protection scheme has ever be found to work without fail.
- - the right to avoid spam to the owner of each tECmailbox
- - profile data to the person whose profile it is
- - selection criteria to the person whose wishes they express
- - matching service organization to the domain maker
For example, users of a dating service might request that their photograph be seen by a correspondent with whom they share a mutual interest, but not forwarded to this correspondent's friends or to some low brow newspaper.
Copyright enforcement and digital piracy are hot fighting topics nowadays. ePrio is committed to provide both sender and receiver of digital information the means to negotiate between themselves within a level playing field, rather than impose its own opinions.
III- Why domain makers ?
ePrio has a dream: to enable Internet to deliver the fullness of its power.
Traditional email and search services just do not it do justice. The former offers post card mail only. The latter single-sided matching.
tEC, the Electronic confidant, goes beyond and offer Internet users a safe, neutral, universal, efficient way to find one another based on mutual interest.
Universal efficiency however cannot be delivered by any one company, no matter how powerful. To go beyond simple keyword matching requires knowledge in all fields imaginable. This is not a Google vision, it is a Wikipedia approach. ePrio offers the platform. It is up to specialized domain makers, each an expert in his or her own sphere, to define, market, deploy the services to satisfy you, the ultimate user.
If you do not find what you need in the tEC catalog, do not simply go away. Get yourself counted. ePrio promises to survey your expectations and let would be domain makers know what domains are in demand. But first ask yourself: