If anyone has ever been on an Internet comment board, then you know how ugly this place can be. It doesn’t matter what the topic is either. I remember once looking at the message board for the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie on IMDB (I have no idea why I was doing that) only to see an epic fight that resulted in one person yelling at another for posting on a message board instead of playing with her kids. And that was just over a kids movie, so imagine what is said when it comes to something important, like politics.
Shout the Good, or Shout, is a social app that wants to become a beacon of positivity in this sea of negativity.
Launching on Monday, the app provides a character score and personality profile for every person with an online footprint. Shout offers its users the tools to increase their score and their positive social impact by shouting the good about others.
I spoke to Payam Zamani, who previously founded Autoweb.com, Reply! and Contractors.com, and actor Justin Baldoni, most famous for his role on the CW show Jane the Virgin, who founded the company last year, about what they hope to accomplish with this app.
“For me it is very important that, whatever I do have an impact in the world. It comes from high faith that work needs to be a form of service, and that what we are doing with our lives benefits the world. As an actor I wasn’t doing that,” Baldoni said.
That resulted in an attempt to create richer content, including a documentary series called My Last Days, which was about people with terminal illnesses and how they handle their inevitable death. The success of the show “made me realize that we could make such a big different though storytelling.”
“We are more connected now than ever before. We have phones and social media and Instagram, but we are also the most isolated. Young people don’t have communication skills and what started happening was anonymous cyber bullying. These are hard things happening to young people and suicides started going up,” said Baldoni.
“We wanted to find a way to fix this, and on social media there is nothing that regulates comments, there is no control. Whisper and Secret, that’s exactly what’s wrong with the world. Whisper felt like witnessing a train wreck. People stop and look because they want to see pain and destruction, since that’s how we’re built as humans, but we need more light to offset the darkness.”
After talking to Zamani, he and Baldoni decided to make something that would be “opposite of Whisper,” where people would be rewarded for their positivity rather than their cruelty.
Shout does this by scoring people from 1 to 100, based on their level of positivity and willingness to see the good in others. It uses national language processing, as well as Shout’s algorithm, to determine if what it being said is positive or negative. It also allows users to endorse each other, and express how they feel about their friends. So they can either choose to say that someone is honest, for example, or say that they don’t know. The answer is never a negative.
“The fact is that if you just create an app and rely on people to spread the good, chances are that nobody would pay attention. But if you tell people that you are going to do a lot more, like give them a score and a character profile, then they will pay attention,” Zamani told me.
“And that info will be publicly available. When you go to get a job, it will not just be your LinkedIn profile, it will be ‘Am I a cultural fit? Do I have the right attitude?’ When you want to date someone, Tinder is all about if you’re hot or not, but Shout can show if you are kind and loving, and if you represent the values that are important to me.”
“We wanted to create a place where people can see the good things about themselves and say good things about the world. It’s the anti-cyber bullying app. It creates positivity without it being too earnest or cheesy.”
I asked both founders if, by making people only say positive things to get a better score, they were actually going to wind up limiting speech on the site. Will people not engage others for fear of offending them and, thereby, gaining a lower score?
“We are not trying to replace Facebook or Twitter. We are offering an alternative, a place you can go to to remember the hings about yourself that are important. The world is hard, and we forget about the things we have. We have never been more depressed and that’s just in America. People are looking at Facebook and Instagram and comparing their lives, but we are posting extreme versions, and pictures of us doing great things, and that is making us feel alone and not as good about ourselves,” said Baldoni.
“With Shout, your friends are telling you things about yourself that are great. Payam endorsed me for being happy and energetic, and when I get that notification its an automatic confidence booster. If 30 of my friends said positive things about me, in turn that will then me want to make someone else feel good and say things about them.”
“Our goal is fundamentally different from Facebook and Twitter. You don’t have to use it every day to have an impact. It is like Klout, where you have a score whether or not you use every day,” said Zamani. “If you want to bad mouth a movie, or talk about politics, there are plenty of places you can go. Shout is an alternative to those places, a way to go feel good about yourself.”
Ultimately, the founders see a world where a person’s Shout score will also be influenced by real world behavior. For example, it could partner with charitable organizations, and give users a higher score if they check in when they volunteer. Or partner with Yelp, and give people points or giving positive reviews.
It can also offer rewards to people for getting a certain score, and even allow them to donate those rewards to others on the site.
“When we originally started Shout, we were thinking about the next five years. We are starting small, in a way where we can grow, but we have a big vision. We want to create a platform that encourages people to be the best version of themselves and rewards them for it,” said Baldoni.
“We want to create a place where so many people that if you go to Zillow, your Shout is tied into it, so you can say, ‘This street has the most honest or happy people.’ Or if you are looking at colleges, you can say, ‘I want to go to a place where people are the most honest.’ You can tap into where you want to go, and find people that are like you.”
“One real world application, which will be fun and which we will do in the coming months, has to do with the political seasons. We will provide info about the presidential candidates, and how their scores compare to each other. Who is the most honest and can they win? What do we are about more in candidates?” said Zamani.
“This is a very ambitious project and we are just at the beginning. We hope to learn a lot from engagement, including how we can tweak scores and make them better based on real world data. It will take at least six to 12 months to fine tune it to the level that truly represents what we have decided to build. This is the beginning of a very long road.”
Source: Vator News