To some extent, a software product at least partially embodies the philosophy of the people who create it. With that in mind, here are some of our guiding thoughts.
We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and that’s why BeLooped DOES NOT compromise your privacy through selling/renting/trading/gifting or providing unintended access to your personal data.
We were offended by companies monetizing our lives by selling information about us, our habits, likes, dislikes and who our friends are to advertisers, political parties, insurance companies and the like. We knew that they do this so that the insights gained can be used to manipulate our buying habits, voting decisions, cost of insurance, etc. We understand: “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. But these activities still really, really bothered us.
It’s bad enough to be tracked as individuals. But a hidden danger is that they track what groups you belong to. That’s because knowing nothing about you other than who you hang out with is the most valuable information of all. The old saying is true: “you are who your friends are”. Sharing your address book with the wrong company compromises not only your privacy, but that of everyone in it. When BeLooped asks for access to your address book, it’s only to save you from re-typing things.
We also believe that everyone has the right to be themselves, and that we are all complex, many-faceted individuals. Your persona within a particular group should reflect the appropriate facet of who you are within that group. Be “Matthew’s Dad” within your daycare group, “Big Third” within your slo-pitch group and “Dr George MacDonald” within your work group. With different, pictures, contact and possibly address information for each. It is natural and healthy to share different aspects of yourself depending on the social context of who you’re with; not to build a single monolithic (or bare) facade that you have to present to everyone.
Since we are not in the business of monetizing you, BeLooped doesn’t pester you to add more and more information about yourself into a single all-inclusive dossier. Instead, we encourage you to customize your profile appropriately for each group you belong to. This ability to have a different persona in each group also contributes to your personal privacy protection.
As software developers, the appreciation of efficiency seems to be part of our DNA. A group oriented address book is simply a more efficient way to organize things and to communicate with multiple people who share a common interest.
For example, you often need to communicate with more than one person in the same group. This is usually due to organizing some event, a time or location change, or passing on some important news. BeLooped groups make this easy because the list of people in any of your groups is always smaller than the list of EVERYONE in your address book.
There aren’t many things that bother software developers as much as bad data. Yet address books are notorious for being out of date.
Perhaps your aunt neglects to tell you that she’s changed her phone number. Or perhaps a new group of 35 people is formed. It’s simple arithmetic: if everyone in a 35 member group has to type their own plus everyone else’s contact information, there will be 35 x 35 = 1225 contacts entered, each with multiple fields where errors can occur. No wonder virtually every address book on the planet holds incorrect information!
The solution to this problem is “symmetric sharing”. The idea is simple and fair: you share YOUR information with the whole group and in return everyone else in the group shares THEIR information with you. This way, only 35 profiles need be entered, not 1225. Each person enters 1 profile instead of 35. Obviously, this saves about 97% of the effort in maintaining your address book, but it also reduces the chance of errors by 97%.
Symmetric sharing also helps keep everyone’s address book up to date. When a member updates their profile in a group, everyone else automatically receives the changes. No more trying to remember who to tell when when you suddenly have a new preferred email address.
Convenience & Extensibility
Many apps exist to help with specific kinds of groups such as soccer and baseball teams, family to-do lists, clubs, etc. But they all have different user interfaces for managing people. We got tired of learning new interfaces for the people management portion of these apps, not to mention having so many apps that did similar things.
With BeLooped, all of the groups to which you belong – whether as the group manager or just a member – are in one place and use the same interface. This reduces learning time and effort.
If all we gave you was the Details and Members tabs, BeLooped would still be the best contact management system you’ve ever used because of symmetric sharing. But the addition of Resources lets you add reference materials that are useful to the group. And News lets you communicate with group members without using easily missed email. Additional tabs are being developed to support BeLooped’s use with an increasingly wide range of group types.
One More Thing
We created BeLooped for ourselves, too! We’re software developers, so we like computers and software. But we also all strongly believe that the real world provides a richer experience than cyberspace and virtual reality ever will. That’s why the core purpose of BeLooped is: Social productivity for real-world groups. We want to provide a tool that helps you plan and get together with people in the real world.