One of the things I miss most from my old job was a certain slack channel - "#foolish-idea-friends" (channel name changed to protect the guilty.)
May 18, 2020
The heart of the slack channel was an ever-growing number list of foolish ideas - concept pitches. A few basic rules were established from the outset: no criticism of ideas were permitted... just because an idea was foolish didn't mean it was "bad"... ideas had to be original as far as we knew to get a number (later a habit of bringing in ideas from elsewhere with the tag "#SEFI" (for "someone else's foolish idea") instead of a number)
One of the fellow pioneers of the channel had written bots to scrape the ideas (one Foolish Idea was to make a "best of" book) and sent me a list of my 1000+ contributions. I had done over a quarter of the almost 4,000 the channel was up to upon my departure!
FIF #600 gives an idea of what the channel was most often used for:
- #600 categorization system for f-i-f; semi-serious but possibly outlandish proposals, less serious proposals just for a laugh, ones added quickly to grab a big number, thinly veiled complaints about stuff in the office, general-joshing on each other, other meta-stuff
- #1500 new html6 attribute: onlick. Like onclick, but you know, for licking things. Steve Jobs said "We made the buttons on the screen look so good you'll want to lick them." and I think modern web browsers should be ready for this.
- #321 formation of a committee to determine the plausibility of "aggressive passive" behavior; for example, furiously hammering water
- #212 A Street Fighter-like game but with the characters from Peanuts (Snoopy, Charlie Brown, etc)
- #1465 Trying to declutter but Marie Kondo is too pile-centric or mumbo-jumbo-y? Arrange all your possessions in a long straight line ordered by how much you want each item, make a perpendicular line at the cut off point, and discard everything to left. DONE AND DUSTED.(Note, you may still have to dust, especially around those shelves where the cluttering items used to sit.)
- #1576 If you have a device or thing in your life you really like and use a lot, like a laptop or iPad or video game system or something, have a loved one wrap it up so you can open it christmas day and think about how much you like it.
- #823 A service where university professors will adopt your child so they can get free tuition at that university
- #2565 A post-mortem service to excise and preserve specific body parts for rhetorical purposes. For example, a wedding finger for a loved one to keep, or a middle finger to send to a person you despised in life, or maybe your whole butt for a hated organization to kiss. The body part can be cremated, preserved in resin, or bronzed.
- #2226 Life in a zero-G or microgravity environment (like on an orbiting station or a spaceship that is not manuevering) offers many challenges. When you're exercising on the treadmill or just sitting at a work console, you need to strap yourself down with elastics and velcro. Exhaled CO2 silently pooling around your head is a constant threat if the air circulation system isn't perfect. And if you lose momentum in a large open area, like thanks to air resistance, it can be nearly impossible to get moving again. The solution to all of these is clear: astronauts should always wear old-school propeller beanies at all times when not in their helmets.
- #1368 every damn smoke and carbon monoxide detector should have a small lcd or e-ink screen that will you tell you its status. no more of this stupid "let me communicate through infuriatingly intermittent chirps". i mean seriously
- #1474 a film crew/biography service that parents can reserve for their young kids. Every year for your unbirthday (6 months opposite your birthday) they come and do a "day in the life" taping, as well as have their writers talk to you and write up what's on your mind and what your life is like
- #3470 make tombstones out of wet cement and let people at the funeral scratch in their final messages to the deceased
- #887 All light switches should have a tiny LED to show if it's on or not. (In some rooms it's obvious, but when the light switch is on the other side of the closed door...)
- #1471 an app to help remind you to keep in contact with friends you don't see regularly. Enter your friends names, and how important they are to you, and it will create a queue of people and nudge you when you should send a "just saying hi" message
- #1588 First Class Deluxe Junk Retirement. Trying to declutter, but stuck with stuff with sentimental value, and/or with no second-hand value? First Class Deluxe Junk Retirement will come to your house to pick it up, take a photo and send it to you, and then put it in a special mausoleum landfill. For example, my "Euclid High School English Departmental Award" medal with ribbon, from 1992. I will never do ANYTHING with this, right? And yet it's weirdly hard to get rid of. Ditto my heavy duty Varsity Jacket with built in cape/hood.
- #1438 One of my best FIFs ever - ok - so our cat has a "food puzzle" where you put kibble in a bunch of little plastic obstacles so the cat can't just chow down, but has to work a bit for each piece. It's meant for exercise, I guess, besides the mental stimulation factor, but it would be MUCH better if you could pour the kibble into some kind of little home base thing and then have little robo mice, each carrying a single platter that could hold just about one piece of kibble, and the cat could chase each bit, knock it to get the kibble, and then it would go back to the home base to get another piece...
- #355 see-through lids for toilets so you can ensure all the material was whisked away instead of leaving it as a gross surprise for the next person, and without aerosolizing the gross stuff either. (Or possibly a sophisticated sensor system to take of reflushes automagically)
- #1073 learn that little 'waiting' step b-boy dancers do right before they launch into something truly impressive. but never do a fancy move, just do the step over and over
- #768 Make an MP3 of silence or someone going "that's the end!" and name the tune early in the alphabet, so when iOS has decided it has run out of audio to play and for some reason starts playing "all songs alphabetically" you don't get blasted by Michael Jackson going "A B C, easy a 1 2 3" ALL THE DAMN TIME
- #1515 out of churros? try this delicious salty, sweet, crispy, chewy dessert: take a chocolate from the front desk (preferably dark or choc w/ caramel) and put it between two tortilla chips!
- #2758 new drink: Apple X-Cider -- take one cup of company cider, drink while sucking on an Atomic Fireball candy
- #270 default slack avatars that are flash GIFs that trigger epileptic seizures so users have a moral and possibly legal obligation to change them
- #391 gamify gamification! every scoring rule you invent for whatever you are gamifying gets you a G.G. Star!
- #485 Start postfixing updated versions of functions etc with "New". This is super great for sites that have "New" and "Used" cars, so people get to enjoy making up heuristics like "if the New is a prefix, it's probably about new cars, but if New is a postfix, it's probably just a later version of a previously existing function"
- #2718 Luggage with face detection that is also delighted to see you as it swings around the baggage carousel and can express that- makes you feel loved after a rough flight and helps you locate your bag. The name of this wonder-product? "emotional baggage"
- #432 pave a road with bad intentions, see where it gets you
- #2190 market an extra-rough brand of kleenex called "grindstone"
- #2793 football uniforms made out of really stretchy material so if a defender grabs you by the uniform you can just keep on running. Bonus: if defender is really strong and heavy and manages to hold on, comedy as you get flung back to him like a rubber band.
- #2567 Along with surgery to reduce snoring, surgery to increase snoring but it comic ways - giant long snort on the inhale, descending whistling tone on the exhale.
- #38 alcoholic drinks mixed with aspirin and gatorade to get a jump on your hangover the next day
- #250 a bumper sticker that wards off cops by saying "don't worry i've driven MUCH drinker than this"
- #2560 combine "Now & Laters" candies with "Atomic Warheads" and call them "Apocalypse Now & Laters"
- #2714 make a 60s/70s mashup cover group called "Earth, Blood, Wind, Sweat, Fire, and Tears."
- #711 Find that butterfly whose wing flapping is causing tornadoes on the other side of the world and STOP IT, FFS
- #235 phone cases marketed by how they feel- texture, weight, etc- more than how they look after all you are mostly just looking at the glass screen, but how they feel to your hand whether out or in your pocket is important all the time
- #413 A Todo App that indicates items have been there too long by overlaying them with subtle cobwebs... you can even swipe them away to indicate progress on the task or just out of frustration
- #193 conduct a social engineering campaign to change social mores so it's ok to react when people are in the bathroom stall next to you: cheering them on if they make a particularly impressive sound, sympathizing if it sounds like they're having problems, etc
- #1055 Micro-Time-Zones. All clocks in a timezone are set to the nearest minute based on the current Longitude. No more stupid bumps when you cross certain state borders!!!
Oh one bonus I almost missed:
- #1593 Make years start on March 1. This will have 3 big advantages:
1. meteorological seasons now line up year - starting with March/April/May spring, June/July/August summer, the school year starts with Sep/Oct/Nov Fall, and then Dec/Jan/Feb Winter 2. September and October now fall on their appropriate Latin numbers (7 and 8)
3. NFL season is no longer this weird ambiguity springing from regular seasons and playoffs of one "season" being in different years