So, in case you just fell off the turnip truck into this blog, our first project (we being Recovery Community Toolsmiths) is the initial launch of MeetingTracker. Which, if you know nothing about it, please go familiarize.
I figured I’d have the first few blog posts spell out out the “big plan” for MeetingTracker, as supplementary material for the fundraiser page. The first question we’re going to answer is:
Why do I think MeetingTracker will catch on like wildfire?
First off, remember that it will always be free. So, like, zero cost. And the first obvious benefit is the awesome, up-to-date, highly-accurate map of meetings of ALL the major fellowships, including at least the following: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Al-Anon. An app providing accurate and up-to-date meeting schedules for all these fellowships in one place does not exist and will be super handy for people in the community, but it won’t be easy to create and maintain it. There is really no one-size-fits-all solution for it. For instance, each AA district is responsible for maintaining its own meeting schedule, in whatever format they choose. The supposition we’re starting out with is that all the meeting schedules are publicly posted on the internet in some form. We’re going to write “screen scrapers” for each state or major urban area in America, and then we’re going to have to babysit them, since the format of the posted information will occasionally change. I’ve written a few of these already, and they range from a fair pain in the butt to quite easy. But they are definitely doable. It will be a full-time job to create them for a month or two, and then maybe a ¼-time job on an ongoing basis to maintain them, and to make corrections based on input from our users and other sources. And then, given that database, our interface to it will be the best. You’ll be able to see the meetings on the map, and will be able to also filter them based on distance, time, fellowship, attributes such as “Women’s” or “Big-Book Study”, etc. It will be nontrivial to get going but once it exists, everybody in the recovery community will want it in their pocket.
Next thing is the automatic chat rooms for every meeting. People in the recovery community recovery are service-oriented. They need to give it away to keep it, and they want to reach out. Once this app is in a lot of pockets, folks from the meetings will monitor for queries to the group, and they will have some people in the public group chat room to answer questions and help the newcomer. This tool that is automatically there will be used, and will spur adoption of the app even more.
Announcements. One of the ways we plan to fund the app on an ongoing basis is to allow users to buy notifications for events they want to announce to the community. We will vet these to make sure they are relevant to recovery (no fair trying to promote your multilevel marketing business!) but for those that are, we’ll charge $x to send notifications about them out to all the users in an area. Folks will find this very useful, making it another reason to adopt.
MeetingTracker will come to form the basis for community-specific social media. If you’re in the community, you’ve often heard people railing about anonymity being broken on facebook, etc. Some folks are never going to be satisfied, of course, but MeetingTracker is at least taking a big stab at addressing these issues. Check out the video to see the specific mechanisms for this, and beyond that let’s just reflect that this app by it’s very intent will mostly filter the “normie” world out. This is a place for us, and it will be seasoned and decorated to our taste. We’ll be speaking the language of recovery here, and folks will dig it because it will feel like home.
Enhanced Safety. Safety is an issue in the recovery community, especially for women. No one is turned away from these fellowships, and so we get our share of predators and creepers. No promises can ever be made in this area, of course, but our trust features and the easy ability to keep identity private will help users to make intelligent decisions about whom to interact with. This is super important especially in those early days of recovery when it’s extra crucial to keep from getting tangled up with the wrong people. This will be a very attractive feature to a huge number of people.
Okay, that’s all I have for now. Keep coming back.