Last week, I was honoured to be able to have a long chat with Bill Griffin, founder of wish-granting website Crowdwish.
Crowdwish is a new, and highly original service which is aiming to become the web's ultimate global wish list.
In the flesh, Bill is engaging and energetic. His aims for Crowdwish are truly noble ones.
During the course of our chat we touched on a diverse range of issues, including inspiration, philanthropy and Katie Hopkins.
First of all Bill, it's lovely to speak with you today. How are things going with Crowdwish?
Things are going really well. The site has garneted an amazing reaction, there are around 10,000 people engaged with it across various platforms, we've actioned 100 wishes in 100 days, we're about to release an iOS app and our users seem delighted every time a wish gets actioned.
Where did you get the inspiration for Crowdwish?
I kept seeing evidence for groups of people coming together online to create outcomes for themselves that they wouldn't have been able to achieve on their own...from Kickstarter to the use of social media during the Arab Spring.
I know this sounds completely ridiculous, but I wanted to create a site where people could come and ask for literally anything and get a meaningful and freshly generated response. That was the brief and it took me a while to figure on how it was going to work, a bit longer to design, then about six months to build.
Can you explain the basic premise of the site for people that are yet to discover it?
On Crowdwish, users can ask for up to ten wishes for anything they want - products, services, experiences, causes or advice. Anything. I know that sounds kind of implausible but bear with me.
They can search the wishes already on the site and add their support to these existing wishes, or create their own new ones.
People gather support for their wishes through facebook, twitter or in any other way they choose; the more people 'me-too' their hopes, the more likely they are to become resolved.
Every 24 hours the most popular wish on the site is taken on by our team of expert deal brokers, researchers and negotiators who then use the power of the combined demand to create results on behalf of that newly formed community.
That isn't to say that wishes will be miraculously granted; more that the site will work tirelessly to make this aggregated demand as influential as it can be.
This might involve creating discounts on popular products that have been selected, it might involve lobbying people who can help change something unfair, or it might be about creating unique experiences available nowhere else. Users don't have to take advantage of whatever is offered, only if they think it's right for them; but all solutions are tailored, creative, imaginative and effective.
So far 100 wishes have been 'actioned' - one a day since the site's launch in January. You can see a selection below.
What has the response been to Crowdwish?
The reaction has been amazing; you can see a small selection of feedback here. I think people like it as a notion; wishes have got a childhood iconography that is appealing at quite a deep level, plus they seem to respond well to the way in which the wishes get actioned - which is sometimes quite earnest and serious, then on other occasions is much more light hearted and irreverent.
Anything that's open to the public on the internet is subject to people misusing it - can you explain the rules you have in place to deter this?
We trawl the wishes pretty constantly to remove any that might be ridiculous or lame attempts to be funny. To be honest, the site is really self-policing and people seem a have a very good instinctive sense of how to use it. We have six guidelines:
1. Don't be lame. No one cares that you wish you could fly. You can't and this site can't help you. Sorry.
2. Don't be greedy. 'I wish I had a free Rolex' isn't going to get traction.
3. Don't be crude. We don't need to hear about your Mila Kunis fantasies.
4. Don't be vague. Try and be specific and imaginative at the same time.
5. Don't be (too) selfish. The more a wish is shared, the more likely it is to come true.
6. Don't be a dick - any form of behavior that breaks the law, or advocates doing so, won't be tolerated.
What has been the most popular wish so far?
We did one last week when a woman made a wish on behalf of a friend whose husband had died. She has been his carer for years but had been totally floored financially by medical bills once he died. We set up an appeal in the USA for her and raised $1,000 in 48 hours to pay the most pressing of her bills. That was cool.
Another time people had voted for a gagging order on Katie Hopkins. We managed to dupe her into signing one by posing as obsessive fans (like she has those). That was quite funny.
Another time a woman was in a truly desperate situation where she had had to flee an horrendously abusive situation and was living in a half way house with no furniture or toys for her child, whose birthday was the coming weekend. We sorted out things for her that made her cry with happiness.
Where do you see Crowdwish in a year's time?
You're meant to have an insanely ambitious goal, right? Well, here's mine; to join together the world's hopes and ambitions, collate and quantify them, then use their critical mass to help bring those dreams closer to reality. I hope a year from now we've made significant progress towards that objective.
A selection of wishes actioned so far include:
· Making donations to charities such as the Red Cross, Action against Hunger, Save the Children and The Bill Clinton foundation.
· Writing spoof letters to Jeff Bezos and David Cameron
· Providing assistance for people nervous about public speaking (from one of the architects of the successful London 21012 bid, no less),
· Creating anti-bullying stickers for school-children
· Surprising NHS staff with various goodies
· Offering private cellar tours and restaurant kitchen experiences
· Lobbying CEOs for equal pay
· Helping people start businesses
· Tracking down the 'perfect black skinny rousers'
· Helping children in Sudan
· Giving away mindfulness apps
· Duping Katie Hopkins into signing her own gagging order
· Creating personalised posters for people with self-esteem issues
· Helping find a bone marrow donor
· Going to Sir David Attenborough's house to ask for a cup of tea
· Having people meet with professionals - from photographers to personal assistants - to help them in their career development
· Providing discounts on Apple products
· Giving away the best books of the last year, as voted for by an amazing panel
· Asking Michael Gove - directly - to teach a lesson himself
· Providing style advice from a TV personality
· Sending mystery presents on Valentine's day
· Cheering up friends of users with surprise gifts
· Finding and allowing users to enjoy the world's best pie
· Creating a competition for amateur coders
· Providing a wardrobe makeover
· Offering support for those who have been in care
· And masses more.....
Visit Crowdwish at http://www.crowdwish.com/