Why Surfr

Firstly, I built Surfr for myself. Just because I desperately wanted such a thing. If you like it, then you may use it, too. In fact, the more people are using it, the better it works.

1. The Time Argument

Decisions, decisions, decisions… No generation before us had to make so many. This means we need information accessible, fast. Very often I find myself following these steps:

  1. Search on Google for a product/service/company/topic
  2. Read the website: "What do they say about themselves?"
  3. Read Wikipedia: "What is the neutral information?"
From here on it becomes trickier. My open questions are:
  1. What does the crowd think about it?
  2. What are the pros and cons?
  3. What are the alternatives?
Surfr fills this gap by answering these questions fast.

2. The Indirection Argument

There are commenting and reputation platforms already. There are forums and all that. The problem with those is the indirection. I don't want 100 accounts on 100 platforms I have to GO TO. We want it RIGHT THERE.

Surfr is right there, baby, right there!

3. The Lost Information Argument

A lot of knowledge is wasted simply because the people having the information are not able to share it. They don't have the necessary tools to make sharing easy and effective.

Take company websites, for example. In a common set up, only a handful of people have the power to make changes to the company's public website. Reasons for restricting write access are competence, responsibility, and technical obstacles. In many cases, employees, customers and visitors that don’t have the power to make changes see mistakes or things that could be improved. And only in very few cases they take the time to try to get their message through to the responsible person. That's sad. Information is lost.

This website is no exception... for technical reasons. At least everyone can now comment on it using Surfr.

Wiki style websites are very effective. However, they are most only used for intranets.

Another example is printed books and newspapers. It's no news that they are full of errors. Some people are aware of some ... but there's nothing they can do. Others who aren't aware are misinformed. One case that comes to mind is the official cookbook used in Swiss primary schools. It contains outdated advice in regards to energy consumption - a hot topic. They publishing company is aware of it. And assures that the next edition will be corrected... coming out in 3 years. Surfr solves that issue on online books and newspapers.

An informed world is a better world. Surfr makes sharing information a breeze.

4. The Openness Argument

Having been born in a communist country, I've heard all the stories, and I am happy to live in an open world.

One role model of applied openness is open source software. There were huge developments everyone's benefit in the last decade, all thanks to it. The more open, the easier accessible, and the easier it is to contribute, the better. Sourceforge was good. GitHub is awesome.

Wikipedia outshines all the proprietary encyclopedias. Millions of unsteady contributors can do so much than a small team of full time authors. As a side note, I never understood my high school and university teachers who stated that Wikipedia wouldn't count as a source, but printed books made by one or a few authors do. They're living in the past.

Since the invention of printing, publishing was in the hands of just a few. That has changed with the invention of the internet, and especially with the rise of blogging platforms. Same goes for TV and Youtube. Ask yourself this: do you watch more TV or Youtube, do you read more mainstream media or blogs? Whichever it is, fact is: giving everyone the opportunity to publish and contribute makes the world a better place.

An open world is a better world. Surfr is open for everyone to participate.

5. The Transparency Argument

Transparency is what makes business fair and politics trustable.

Wikileaks is just one example. There will be more sites and organizations similar to it.

A transparent world is a better world. Surfr helps making the world more transparent by allowing everyone to comment and read right where it matters.

6. The Reputation Argument

The fact that people want to have a good reputation makes the world a better place. They act kind and fair.

The good old days: Our ancestors lived in a small village. Everyone knew everyone. Word spread quickly. Reputation was crucial for private relations (friends), as well as for doing business. Society has developed a system of reputation and trust that has worked for thousands of years. Strangers were approached with caution. (Strangers meant people from the neighbor village.) Our villages became anonymous cities. And we move... a lot. (Do you even know your neighbor‘s name?) We stayed connected. Reputation is still important for friends. For day-to-day business needs, however, the friend network is mostly irrelevant. Our attitude towards strangers had to change. We do business with people who aren‘t our cousins, who aren‘t from the same neighborhood, and about whom we know almost nothing. It works quite well thanks to our built-in system to judge people and situations in a fraction of a second. In the village, we had a lot of info, but not much choice. Today, we have a lot of choice, but not much info. Because the old reputation system became largely disfunct, some people and companies developed new business strategies. They go for quick profit instead of sustainability. This ranges from complete ripoff to just-not-so-perfect service. We’re entering in the digital era. It‘s a new world. We‘re making more decisions than ever before. Management teaches us that we can only make good decisions when knowing all the facts. We're making business online now. The drawback: judging people and companies online is harder because we don‘t have a person face-to-face. On the plus side: we do have tools like Google to find out facts, and make a decision based on that. Some sites have developed an online reputation system. An online marketplace like eBay just wouldn't work without. Amazon uses book reviews.

The internet does not know negative links. Html was not designed for reputation. Links were designed solely for navigation. Google with its PageRank started to use links for reputation. And again Google introduced the nofollow link attribute in 2005 to reduce the link's meaning back to just navigation. But there is no negative link. It's not possible to mention another site and say "this is bad". Links work like news: it doesn't matter why your product is in the news, any news counts and people remember the name.

In the same way, there is no Facebook dislike button. There may be 1000 people who like it, but you don't see the 1 million who hate it. Google+ likewise.

For a product in the shelf, the most important factor is the price. Maybe it has some labels, like ecological, fair trade. There are more and more people who don't just look at the price. Was child labor involved in making this? Animal treatment? Ecological, clean production? That’s too much to write on the product pack.

Thanks to Surfr it becomes even more important for businesses to achieve a good reputation and to think long term. And it pays to do so.

7. The Missing Argument

There is no 7th argument yet. But "7 arguments" sounds better. It’s a magic number. Can you contribute with the 7th argument?