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♦ Intent Map

on 4 August 2010 - 6:45pm

Intent (The Why)

The Intent Map project aims to allow people to easily find other people with the same intent or dream - people who share a project that exists in their imagination, but may not yet have a definite name.


Objective (The What)


We want to build a set of tools that are understandable and usable by pretty much anyone. This is a project by geeks, but not just for geeks.

There are two basic parts to a minimally usable system: (1) A means for people or groups to describe intent; (2) A means to navigate the pool of intents to discover people who are going in the same direction.


1. Describing intent

We are thinking that the first stage might be a schema for a user profile, à la FOAF (using RDFa + microformats) where one could:

  • specify intent;
  • commit to work (or to provide other resources) on a project that supports that intent;
  • make explicit under what conditions they are willing to contribute (e.g. "I'll gladly contribute if the project is open source", etc.)

We are thinking of providing plugins for major social network sites (Facebook, etc.) to generate and display such profiles. We also want to make it work with Diaspora.


2. Navigating intents

This part is about creating a map that can be navigated from the pool of intents. It could be in the form of hypertext, or some kind of visual map. Ideally, every intent would be linked to related intents, and to the projects and people who pursue that intent.


  Project Structure (The How)

  • This project is open to contribution from anyone. Share ideas using the #IntentMap hashtag, or join the mailing list if you want to get involved more closely.
  • We believe in rough consensus and running code.
  • We will be thrashing out the specs on . It's a template site right now, feel free to join. (Ask one of us to do so.)


  Related work and prior art

  • Description Of A Project is "a project to create an XML/RDF vocabulary to describe software projects, and in particular open source". See the index of Apache projects for a mature example, and DOAPamatic for an example input interface.
  • IfWeRanTheWorld lets people set out a vision and decompose it into microactions. The resulting page acts as an "action platform" to get things done.
  • The Global Ideas Bank collects ideas for improving the world.
  • 43Things and are simplest-case intent declaration microblogging sites.
  • KickStarter and Refresh Everything allow people to vote for, spread the word about, and (directly or indirectly) fund defined projects.
  • Mentory lets people describe themselves and their goals, plus what they offer and what they need in the way of mentorship.
  • Catchafire matches volunteer skills and nonprofits who need them.
  • DOAC: Description of a Career. Similar to a resume, but with better capabilities.
  • has a categorized directory of (existing) mesh businesses, including a "description" for each, e.g.
  • The semantic web crowd almost certainly has something like a browsable Intent Map. Ask Dan Brickley? Stefano Mazzochi?
  Learn More

Essentials: This page is the current homepage for the project. Most of the discussion is happening at the Intent Map Google Group.





 Author:   This effort grew out of a session at RoCoCo 2010 on "One Big Map of Intentions", with contributions from:

Live notes from the session can be found here.

Thanks for your input and inspiration: