WO2007124762A1 - System and method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community - Google Patents

System and method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007124762A1
WO2007124762A1 PCT/EP2006/003921 EP2006003921W WO2007124762A1 WO 2007124762 A1 WO2007124762 A1 WO 2007124762A1 EP 2006003921 W EP2006003921 W EP 2006003921W WO 2007124762 A1 WO2007124762 A1 WO 2007124762A1
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activity
user
method
users
information
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PCT/EP2006/003921
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French (fr)
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Rinat Salimov
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Badoo Limited
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/10Office automation, e.g. computer aided management of electronic mail or groupware; Time management, e.g. calendars, reminders, meetings or time accounting

Abstract

Various systems, methods, and apparatus for facilitating the organization of activities among users of a virtual community are disclosed. A first embodiment may be construed as a computer-implemented method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community. The method includes: receiving information about an activity from a first user, wherein the first user intends other users to participate in the activity, posting the activity to the virtual community, receiving a request from a second user to participate in the activity, linking the second user to the activity expressing the second user's interest in participating in the activity, and providing notification to the first user of the second user's intended participation in the activity.

Description

TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR FACILITATING THE ORGANIZATION OF ACTIVITIES AMONG USERS IN A VIRTUAL COMMUNITY

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to computer data and information systems accessed over the Internet, and more particularly to a computer-based system for effectively facilitating the organization of activities among users of a social networking web site.

BACKGROUND SECTION

[0002] Over the past several years, the amount of personal information that individuals share online has increased dramatically. Many websites provide a virtual community that provides content focusing on a common interest or theme (e.g., a "fan site" for a television program or musical artist), and allows people to join the virtual community and share personal information with other members of the community.

[0003] Online social networking sites have also been rapidly gaining in popularity (e.g. MySpace). Typically, members of an online social network communicate with one another and meet other members based on personal information, such as interests, hobbies, careers, and institutions past attendeα1, captured in the other member profiles.

[0004] A positive consequence of this general trend is the greater ability for groups of friends, families and other acquaintances to communicate online with, and about, each other as members υf a social network. For example, a group of Mends may share personal information with each other generally about common interests. Another benefit of online social networks is that members can more easily find others who share common TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

interests, goals, lifestyles, etc., without being limited to an online community dedicated to a particular interest. Doing so allows members to expand their social networks.

[0005] One interesting social networking site, 43things.com owned and operated by The Robot Co-Op, provides an opportunity for users to share in the experience of goal setting. Users can list their own goals, view other people's goals, and express their interests in achieving similar goals. As opposed to purely similar hobbies or interests as a means of linking people in a virtual community, particular goals to achieve are the link between disparate individuals.

[0006] The viral nature of social networks is one reason for the success of such web sites. The Internet can easily facilitate the spread of use of these networks. Furthermore, users often feel more comfortable in engaging in interaction because of the pseudo-anonymous nature of such a "virtual" environment. A level of protection to the identity of end users comes inherent in a virtual community running atop a network of computers. The anonymous nature of virtual communities and social networks, however, has drawbacks. Achieving interaction "off-line" or in the "real world" among members of a virtual community remains a challenge.

SUMMARY

[0007] Various systems, methods, and apparatus are disclosed that facilitate the organization of activities among users of a virtual community. A first embodiment may be construed as a computer-implemented method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community. The method includes: receiving information about an activity from a first user, wherein the first user intends other users TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

to participate in the activity, posting the activity to the virtual community, receiving a request from a second user to participate in the activity, linking the second user to the activity expressing the second user's interest in participating in the activity, and providing notification to the first user of the second user's intended participation in the activity. [0008] Another embodiment of the invention may be construed as a system for facilitating the organization of activities among users of a web site. The system includes means for receiving information about an activity from a first user, wherein the first user intends other users to participate inihe activity; means for posting the activity to the web site; means for receiving a request from a second user to participate in the activity; and means for linking the second user to the activity expressing the second user's interest in participating in the activity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. [0010] FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a system for providing an online social network, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0011] FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating an embodiment of a method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community as performed by the system illustrated in FIG. 1. TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0012] FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating a method for adding a new activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0013] FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a method for enabling a user to subscribe to an existing activity in the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0014] FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating a method for posting a new or edited activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0015] FIG. 6 is a sample graphical user interface used for adding a new activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0016] FIG. 7 is a sample graphical user interface used for subscribing a user to an existing activity within the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. [0017] FIG. 8 is a sample graphical user interface used for searching activities existing within the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0018] In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be evident, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In some instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form, rather than in detail, in order to avoid obscuring the present invention. These embodiments aie described in sufficient detail to TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, electrical, and other changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0019] Some portions of the detailed descriptions that follow are presented in terms of algorithms and symbolic representations of operations on data bits within a computer memory. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are the means used by those skilled in the data processing arts to most effectively convey the substance of their work to others skilled in the art. An algorithm is here, and generally, conceived to be a self- consistent sequence of acts leading to a desired result. The acts are those requiring physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, though not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated. It has proven convenient at times, principally for reasons of common usage, to refer to these signals as bits, values, elements, symbols, characters, terms, numbers, or the like.

[0020] It should be borne in mind, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities. Unless specifically stated otherwise as apparent from the following discussion, it is appreciated that throughout the description, discussions utilizing terms such as "processing" or "computing" or "calculating" or "determining" or "displaying" or the like, refer to the action and processes of a computer system, or similar electronic computing device, that manipulates and transforms data represented as physical (electronic) quantities within the computer system's registers and memories into TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

other data similarly represented as physical quantities within the computer system memories or registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.

[0021] The present invention can be implemented by an apparatus for performing the operations described herein. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, or it may comprise a general-purpose computer, selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a computer readable storage medium, such as, but not limited to, any type of disk including floppy disks, optical disks, CD-ROMs, and magnetic-optical disks, read-only memories (ROMs), random access memories (RAMs), EPROMs, EEPROMs, magnetic or optical cards, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, and each coupled to a computer system bus.

[0022] The algorithms and displays presented herein are not inherently related to any particular computer or other apparatus. Various general-purpose systems may be used with programs in accordance with the teachings herein, or it may prove convenient to construct a more specialized apparatus to perform the required method. For example, any of the methods according to the present invention can be implemented in hard-wired circuitry, by programming a general-purpose processor or by any combination of hardware and software. One of skill in the art will immediately appreciate that the invention can be practiced with computer system configurations other than those described below, including hand-held devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor- based or programmable consumer electronics, DSP devices, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. The invention can also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

devices that are linked through a communications network. The required structure for a variety of these systems will appear from the description below.

[0023] The methods of the invention may be implemented using computer software. If written in a programming language conforming to a recognized standard, sequences of instructions designed to implement the methods can be compiled for execution on a variety of hardware platforms and for interface to a variety of operating systems. In addition, the present invention is not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the invention as described herein. Furthermore, it is common in the art to speak of software, in one form or another (e.g., program, procedure, application...), as taking an action or causing a result. Such expressions are merely a shorthand way of saying that execution of the software by a computer causes the processor of the computer to perform an action or produce a result.

[0024] It is to be understood that various terms and techniques are used by those knowledgeable in the art to describe communications, protocols, applications, implementations, mechanisms, etc. One such technique is the description of an implementation of a technique in terms of an algorithm or mathematical expression. That is, while the technique may be, for example, implemented as executing code on a computer, the expression of that technique may be more aptly and succinctly conveyed and communicated as a formula, algorithm, or mathematical expression. Thus, one skilled in the art would recognize a block denoting A+B=C as an additive function whose implementation in hardware and/or software would take two inputs (A and B) and produce a summation output (C). Thus, the use of formula, algorithm, or mathematical TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

expression as descriptions is to be understood as having a physical embodiment in at least hardware and/or software (such as a computer system in which the techniques of the present invention may be practiced as well as implemented as an embodiment).

[0025] A machine-readable medium is understood to include any mechanism for storing or transmitting information in a form readable by a machine (e.g., a computer). For example, a machine-readable medium includes read only memory (ROM); random access memory (RAM); magnetic disk storage media; optical storage media; flash memory devices; electrical, optical, acoustical or other form of propagated signals (e.g., carrier waves, infrared signals, digital signals, etc.); etc.

[0026] One embodiment of the present invention may be implemented as computer software incorporated as part of an online social networking system. The system operates with a computer system using a Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, Linux or other operating system equipped with a Web browser application, or other Web-enabled device capable of connecting to the Internet or other network system. It should be noted that the term "Internet" is intended to encompass similar systems and nomenclature (i.e., World Wide Web or "www") comprising the capability to communicate and access information through a network, telephone connections, ISDN connections, DSL connections, cable modem, fiber optic network, etc. The present invention should not be limited in its communication nomenclature; the present invention is applicable to any system that is accessible by means υf a Web browser, υr other means υf uυiimiuuiυatively coupling one device or server to another.

[0027] Turning now to FIG. 1, illustrated is a block diagram of a system for managing a web-based social network or virtual community. As shown, FIG. 1 illustrates a computer

H TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

system 10, including an application server 30 and image server 20. The computer system 10 is connected to a network 1, e.g., the Internet, and accessible over the network 1 by a plurality of user interfaces (5A, 5B, and 5C). A user interface shall be considered any device capable of communicating and interacting with the computer system 10 via the network 1 via either a wired and/or wireless communication link. Thos skilled in the art will appreciate the commonly used term "Internet appliance" as another way to generically describe the various user interfaces (5A, 5B, and 5C). Non-limiting examples of user interfaces are desktop or laptop personal computers (PCs) 5 A, hand-held PCs, PDAs 5C, smartphones, and cellular telephones 5B.

[0028] The application server 30 manages a user profile database 42, an activity database 44 and a search database 46. The user profile database 42 contains profile information for each of the users in the online social network managed by the computer system 10. The profile information may include, among other things: a unique user identifier, name, age, gender, location, hometown, contact information available to users in the community, references to image files, listing of interests, attributes, and past and current activities within which the user has been or is involved.

[0029] The activities database 44 stores information relating to activities added and posted by users of the social network. In addition, the contents of the activities database 44 are indexed and optimized for search, and stored in the search database 46. The user profile database 42, the activities database 44, and the search database 46 are updated to reflect inputs of new user information and edits of existing user information that are made through the user interfaces (5A, 5B, and 5C). TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0030] The user profile database 42, the activities database 44, and the search database 46 are depicted separately in the block diagram of FIG. 1 to illustrate that each performs a different function. The databases 42, 44, 46 may each represent a different database system, module, or software; or any two of the three or all three may be parts of the same database system, module, or software.

[0031] The application server 30 also receives and processes information exchange requests received from the remote user interfaces (5A, 5B, and 5C). An information exchange request may be a request to create a new activity, a request to view an existing activity, a request to subscribe, or link, a user to an existing activity, and a request to initiate an electronic mail (email) or Short Message System (SMS) communication to a user. The application server 30 relies on the image server 20 to process certain CPU- intensive tasks required to display the data stored in the various databases 42, 44, and 46 on the user interfaces (5A, 5B, and 5C).

[0032] FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating an embodiment of a method 100 for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community as performed by the system 10 illustrated in FIG. 1. Such activities can be, for example, playing basketball, grabbing a coffee, going shopping, studying at the library, etc. It is the belief of the Applicant's that no system or method, until now, has been invented to help facilitate the organization of such exemplary activities in an online manner. Accordingly, the method 100 begins once a "hit" to the web site in which the social network resides is made by a user via the network 1 (See FlG. 1). As is well known in the art, the computer system 10 will generate a graphical display of information, typically in hypertext markup language

(HTML) or a derivative thereof, which will be displayed as a web page and viewable via TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

a web browser residing on a user's interface. The methods illustrated herein can be implemented within the confines of a dedicated web site, or as a sub-module of a web site. Regardless, a user can choose a number of options once they have landed on the web site, including: searching for an activity in which to participate, subscribing to an activity in which to participate, and adding a new activity for others to participate. Other options commonly available on social networking based web sites include: editing/viewing one's user profile, clicking on an advertisement present on the web page.

[0033] Should a user choose to search for an activity, the method 100 proceeds with receiving a search request (Step 105). FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary graphical user interface (GUI) in which a user can enter a search request. Once received, the search request is processed (Step 110). It should be appreciated that the particulars in which the search request is processed is well known in the art and beyond the scope of the present invention.

[0034] Another option available once a user hits the web page is to simply choose to add a new activity (Step 116). Should a user choose to add a new activity, the user will proceed to provide the system with information necessary to add a new activity. An exemplary GUI for capturing such information from a user is illustrated in FIG. 6 and encapsulated within the method 100 as Step 150. FIG. 3 further illustrates an exemplary method for receiving a new activity from a user.

[0035] Once a new activity is received from a user (Step 150), the method 100 proceeds with posting the new activity to the site, where the new activity becomes visible to the virtual community (Step 160). This step is further described in FIG. 5. TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0036] A third option available once a user hits the web page is to choose to subscribe to an activity (Step 114), perhaps an activity that is presently displayed on the home page of the web site. Should a user choose to subscribe to an activity, the user will proceed to provide the system with information necessary to subscribe the user to the activity. An exemplary GUI for a user to use to subscribe to a particular activity is illustrated in FIG. 7. Once a user chooses to subscribe to a particular activity and utilizes the GUI to provide information, the system 10 receives the user subscription along with the information captured via the GUI (Step 120). This process is further described in FIG. 4.

[0037] Once a subscription to a particular activity is received (Step 120), the method 100 proceeds with notifying the existing participants of the activity that the user has now become a new participant to the activity (Step 130).This can be accomplished in a number of ways. First, the notification to the other participants can occur via simply displaying the new participant's participation to the activity on the site. In this manner, this notification would be passive. In order for an existing participant to receive this information, the existing participant would have to view the information displayed on the site, at some later time. In other embodiments, the manner in which the notification to the existing participants could be more direct, by, perhaps, a direct communication. This communication could notify each existing participant that a new participant to the activity has just subscribed to the activity. The direct communication could be, for example, an electronic mail ("email") communication, an Instant Message ("IM") communication, or a Short Message Service ("SMS") communication. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that this is a non-exclusive list of direct communications. TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0038] The method 100 may optionally proceed with providing contact information of the new participant to the existing participants, and vice versa (Step 140). The individual subscribers to the activity can choose whether their personal information, and what personal information, is to be disclosed to other users. One subscriber may choose to disclose only his/her email address, whereas another subscriber may choose to disclose his/her email address and telephone number.

[0039] Should a user choose to first search for an activity upon entering the web site, the user may come across an activity (Step 112), in which case they can choose to subscribe to that activity (Step 114). Should the user not find an activity in which they are interested in pursuing, they can choose to add an activity (Step 116).

[0040] FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating a method 200 for adding a new activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The method 200 begins with verification that the user is logged in (Step 205). As is common, in order to use certain components of a web-based system one must subscribe or register with the system. Should a user not be logged in, the user is directed to a login/registration component of the web-based system (Step 206). Those skilled in the art will appreciate that any particular method for logging in and/or registering a user is beyond the scope of the present invention.

[0041] Once a user is logged in, the method 200 proceeds with receiving a title and description of the new activity (Step 210). The location in which the activity will be performed may then be received (Step 215). Location may be cυiumunicated in any of a variety of ways, such as via a text entry of a zip or postal code. Identifying a location on a graphical map is another method for identifying the location of the activity. Next, a TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

time range and date of the activity is received from the user (Step 220). Again, this information can be communicated in a number of ways, for example, via a drop down list, or via a graphical calendar mechanism. [0042] A user can then be asked whether the activity will be recurring (Step 225), and if so, the frequency of recurrences is received (Step 226). Frequency may be daily, weekly, monthly, etc., and can be useful for such activities that are typically recurring, such as poker night, for example.

[0043] The user can then be asked whether they would like to limit the number of participants to the activity (Step 230). If so, the method 200 proceeds with receiving the number of desired participants (Step 231) from the user. For example, an activity could warrant just one other participant, such as a racquetball match. Other activities may allow for more users, such as studying in the library. In this case, some type of limit as to the number of participants would be preferable, but not necessary. In other cases, such as social events, an open-ended invitation is desirable.

[0044] Next, the user can provide limitations as to the universe that can subscribe to participate in the activity (Steps 231 and 232). Should the user choose to limit the universe of available participants, there are a number of approaches to achieving this. In a first embodiment, the system can provide a method for the user to select whether the activity is viewable to the entire universe of users, or to a selected universe of users, such as, for example, the user's own "contacts" or "friends." If the activity is not viewable, obviously a user cannot subscribe to it, as the user would not be able to find the activity on the web site. In another embodiment, the system can provide "demographic" limitations, such as by age, gender, proximity to the location of the activity, etc. In this TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

manner, an organizer can add an activity in which only adult women can participate, or only kids of any age but within 20 miles of the activity. Of course, both of these approaches, ie., limiting viewability and demographic limitations, can be implemented together to add two layers of limitations. Those skilled in the art will appreciate other means for limiting the universe of available participant users other then those mentioned herein can exist and should be considered inclusive in scope without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

[0045] Once limitations have been added, if desired, the method 200 proceeds with requesting notification and contact instructions and/or permissions (Step 235). A user can choose to be notified when other users subscribe to participate in the activity in which the user (the organizer) is about to add. The user can also choose to not be notified. Should the user choose to be notified, he/she may provide a preferred method for being notified, such as for example via email, SMS, or IM communication. A user may also choose whether they wish to provide personal contact information to future subscribing users, as well as what personal information to provide (ie., email address, IM address, telephone number, etc.).

[0046] FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a method 300 for enabling a user to subscribe to an existing activity in the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The method 300 begins with verification that the user is logged in (Step 305). Should a user not be logged in, the user is directed to a login/registration component of the web-based system (Step 306). Those skilled in the art will appreciate that any particular method for logging in and/or registering a user is beyond the scope of the present invention. TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0047] Once logged in, the method 300 proceeds with verifying that the particular user is able to participate in the chosen activity. Generally, this is accomplished by comparing information stored in the subscribing user's profile with "limitations" linked to the chosen activity. Location of the user can be examined to see whether it falls within the proximity range of the chosen activity, as set by the organizer of the activity (Step 315). Should the subscribing user fall outside the range of the chosen activity, the method 300 proceeds with notifying the subscribing user that they fall, geographically outside the scope of the chosen activity (Step 350).

[0048] If the user's location falls within the location of the chosen activity, the method 300 can proceed with verifying whether availability exists with the chosen activity (Step 320). Should no availability exist, the method 300 proceeds to Step 350, where the user is told that there is no availability with the chosen activity. In instances where the organizer did not set a limit on the number of participants, this step would be circumvented.

[0049] Should there be availability with the chosen activity, the method 300 proceeds with comparing the user profile with the "demographic" limitations set forth by the organizer of the chosen activity (Step 325). Should the demographics of the particular user not match with the allowances of the chosen activity, the method 300, again, proceeds to Step 350, where the user is notified as to why they cannot participate in the activity.

[0050] Should the user's profile 111 with the demographic limilalions of the activity, the method 300, proceeds with receiving permissions for disclosing the user's contact information to the current list of participants to the activity (Step 330). Should a user TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

permit contact information to be disseminated, the user can choose which information to provide (ie., email address, IM address, or telephone number).

[0051] At this point, the user can be added as a participant to the activity, and linked to the activity in the activities database 44 (See FIG. 1) (Step 335). Likewise, this activity may be linked to particular user's profile. The availability in the chosen activity is reduced by 1.

[0052] A reminder sequence can then be initiated. For example, a reminder can be scheduled to be emailed 24 hours prior to the start of the activity. This reminder can be queued into the system (Step 340).

[0053] The notification to the other participants of the new participant to the activity can then begin (Step 345). Likewise, communication of contact information between new participant and previous participant(s) can be performed, if so chosen.

[0054] FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating a method 400 for posting a new or edited activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The method 400 begins with storing the activity in the activities database 44 (Step 405). A number of data fields are provided when an organizer enters a new activity. These data fields are populated into the database as necessary.

[0055] A dynamic cataloguing can then proceed based on a number of approaches (Step 410). An autonomous approach, using keyword recognition can be used to identify various characteristics about an activity, such as a whether an activity is a sport, entertainment, or philanthropy. More then likely, however, human review will be necessary to place the activity within a taxonomy of activities. Expired activities can be purged at this point, and can be purged on a scheduled basis as well (Step 415). TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0056] Once catalogued, the activities database can be re-indexed to accommodate the new activity (Step 420). The new indexing is stored in the search database where it may be called upon at a later time.

[0057] Next, a list of activities can be displayed to the user, including the activity just added (Step 425). The list of activities will have some relevance to the newly added activity. For example, a list of activities on a similar date in a similar city as the added activity could be displayed. The user viewing the displayed data can then choose to manipulate the list of activities by choosing to sort the list based upon a number of priority schemes. The user can also choose what information regarding the activities to display.

[0058] FIG. 6 is a sample graphical user interface screen 500 used for adding a new activity to the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The screen 500, generally coincides, with the steps as performed in method 200 illustrated in FIG. 3. The screen 500 may be considered a graphical display of information communicated via the World Wide Web, using a variety of programming languages, including HTML and derivatives thereof. A web browser 501 is a client-side software application used to display web pages. The web browser 501 may be designed for a specific user interface (5A, 5B, or 5C), such as for a PC, a PDA, or a cell phone. [0059] The screen 500 can otherwise be considered a visual display a form for receiving data to be imported into a database. As such the screen 500 may include a number of fields for receiving data. Field 505, is generally for receiving a title and description of the activity. Field 510 is for receiving a date for the activity. Alternatively this could be accomplished by way of a calendar or other mechanism. Field 515 is used to provide a TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

zip or postal code to represent the location of the activity. As mentioned above, in the alternative, a graphical map interface could be used to determine the location. Field 535 provides a means for a user to choose to be notified as well as whether to allow his/her contact information to be disseminated to subscribing participants. Field 520 includes a number of data entry points to communicate a time of the activity as well as frequency of reccurence, if any. Field 530 includes a number of data entry points to provide limitations to the universe of able participants. As mentioned earlier with regard to the method 200 of FIG. 3, a number of approaches could be used to limit the universe of able participants, aside from those illustrated herein. 060] FIG. 7 is a sample graphical user interface screen 600 used for displaying an activity in which a user can subscribe to in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The screen 600 may include a number of data, including a detailed description 610 of the activity. A list 615 of participating users may also be included in the screen 600. This list may be organized in alphabetical order, order in which the user subscribed, or some other preferential order. A variety of information about each user can be provided in the list, such as for example, the user's screen name, a photo, a comment from the user regarding the particular activity, or a number of other data fields. Each reference to a particular can be a hyperlink to further description about that particular user. A feedback report 620 may also be included along with each user. This feedback report 620, as is common with other web communities, can be used to communicate community-provided feedback about the user, including feedback as to whether the user is a "good" participant, or perhaps whether the user showed up, as scheduled to previous activities. TKHR Docket No: 361903-2010

[0061] A categorical hierarchy 605 can be displayed showing a viewer where this activity has been catalogued within a dynamic taxonomy, as is common for web sites. Other information can be displayed to convey a particular activity, and those chosen herein are merely examples, and should not be construed as limiting or exclusive.

[0062] A link to subscribe to the particular activity is provided in the display 600.

[0063] FIG. 8 is a sample graphical user interface screen 700 used for searching activities existing within the online social network in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. The screen 700 includes a number of mechanisms in which to search for an activity. The results of a given search are displayed under the search results 735. The manner in which the results are displayed may be programmatically altered by the user based upon chosen preferences.

[0064] A standard text-based search box 710 is provided to facilitate a string or text- based search, as is well known in the art. An advanced search section 720 limiting the results to certain characteristics may be provided as well. A catalogue of activities 725 may be displayed and contain an outline of links to various catalogued activities. A tag- based or keyword search could also be performed. A listing of popular tags 730 can be displayed on the screen and provide links to particular activities or groups of activities.

[0065] In particular, the "computer-implemented method" is implemented in a computer network comprising several computers of a plurality of users wherein the computers are linked by the internet. The service of "organization of activities" might include providing, receiving and processing information data, text data, sound data and/or pictures or other informations, time schedules, participant data with names, addresses, a user number and the like and/or security data for making the aforementioned information only available for a restricted part of users of the virtual community.

[0066] The "virtual community" might comprise a group of users. Such group of users has sent information, in particular by internet, e-mail or mail or vioce, to declare their interest in participating in the virtual community. It is possible that the organization of activities in a virtual community by receiving, processing, providing includes checking data if the receiving user, the user the information is provided for and/or the user having sent data being processed has sent data, information, security information or validation information. Such information is intended for confirmation that the user is participant of the virtual community.

[0067] In particular, the step of "receiving information about an activity from a first user, wherein the first user intends other users to participate in the activity" contains invitation data or request data being received, in particular an invitation for sending a response. Additionally, it might contain data for different decisions concerning arbitrary ways to participate in the activity. Furthermore, such received information might include a list of users receiving such information. Such information might be received by a central unit that is responsible for the organization of activities. It is also possible that such central unit administers the security information and the membership of the participants in the virtual community.

[0068] The step of "posting the activity to the virtual community" might include selecting a number of users or participants that might be all the participants of the virtual community or selected users that have expressed their interest in participating activities of a special type before.

[0069] The step of receiving a request from a second user to participate in the activity might include receiving an election of one of several activities or/and receiving additional information on the type of participation in the activity, in particular the number of attending persons, the type of activity being of interest and the like.

[0070] The step of "linking the second user to the activity expressing the second user's interest in participating in the activity" might include transferring the user address of the second user and additional information or data concerning the way the second user intends to attend the activity to the central unit. Expressing the second user's interest might include submitting a binary information with the option of "attending" or "not attending".

Claims

CLAIMSWhat is claimed is:
1. A computer-implemented method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community, said method comprising: receiving information about an activity from a first user, wherein the first user intends other users to participate in the activity; posting the activity to the virtual community; receiving a request from a second user to participate in the activity; and linking the second user to the activity expressing the second user's interest in participating in the activity.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving information about an activity from a first user further comprises: receiving at least a first limiter of the activity from the first user, wherein a limiter is: location in which the activity is to be performed, number of desired participants, demographics of desired participants, or timeline for completion.
3. The method of claim 1 , wherein receiving information about an activity from a first user further comprises: receiving notification instructions from the first user, wherein notification instructions from the first user determine how the first user is to be notified upon other users expressing interest in participating in the activity.
4. The method of claim 1 , wherein receiving information about an activity from a first user further comprises: receiving contact permissions from the first user, wherein contact permissions from the first user determine whether contact information of the first user is to be provided to other users that have expressed interest in participating in the activity.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein posting the activity to the virtual community further comprises: cataloguing the activity provided by the first user; and displaying the activity.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein cataloguing the activity submitted by the first user further comprises: cataloguing the activity based upon at least one of the following criteria: location in which the activity is to be performed, theme, approximate number of desired participants, demographics of desired participants, and timeline for completion.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein displaying the activity further comprises: displaying the activity within a list of activities, wherein the list and the manner in which the list is displayed is determined by at least one of the following criteria: age of the activity, popularity of the activity, geographic proximity to the activity, time until completion of the activity, number of participants to the activity, number of remaining desired participants to the activity, or demographics of participants to the activity.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising: providing the first user with contact information of the second user and the second user with contact information of the first user upon the second user requesting to participate in the activity.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein providing the first user with contact information of the second user and the second user with contact information of the first user further comprises:
providing a direct communication to at least one of the users with contact information regarding the other user, wherein the direct communication is at least one of the following: an email communication or an SMS communication.
10. The method of claim 1 , further comprising: providing notification to the first user of the second user's intended participation in the activity.
PCT/EP2006/003921 2006-04-27 2006-04-27 System and method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community WO2007124762A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2006/003921 WO2007124762A1 (en) 2006-04-27 2006-04-27 System and method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community

Applications Claiming Priority (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2006/003921 WO2007124762A1 (en) 2006-04-27 2006-04-27 System and method for facilitating the organization of activities among users in a virtual community
PCT/IB2006/004298 WO2008012601A3 (en) 2006-04-27 2006-11-08 System and method for altering the placement of a listing in a web-based list

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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20020059379A1 (en) * 1998-09-15 2002-05-16 Jamey Harvey System and method for information and application distribution
US20030028596A1 (en) * 2001-05-15 2003-02-06 Kabushiki Toshiba Community-based collaborative knowledge system, and user access limiting method in that system
WO2006020758A2 (en) * 2004-08-15 2006-02-23 Yongyong Xu Resource based virtual communities

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20020059379A1 (en) * 1998-09-15 2002-05-16 Jamey Harvey System and method for information and application distribution
US20030028596A1 (en) * 2001-05-15 2003-02-06 Kabushiki Toshiba Community-based collaborative knowledge system, and user access limiting method in that system
WO2006020758A2 (en) * 2004-08-15 2006-02-23 Yongyong Xu Resource based virtual communities

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