Invented by Gregory P. Whalin, Matthew Meeker, Peter Kamali, Scott Heiferman, MEETUP Inc
The MEETUP Inc invention works as followsThe present invention describes improved capabilities for a computer for organizing in person gatherings of users with topic-related interests. This system includes a web-based management facility that has a user-friendly interface for multiple users. Each of the users can use the interface to join one or more meeting groups, based at least on topic-related concern and geographical location. A user is a member of a group when they join it.
Background for Web-based interactive meeting facility for example, progressive announcements
In social networking, many people want to form groups or have gatherings that are centered around common interests. In the past groups could be formed or gatherings held in a social setting or organization, such as an educational institution, community center or private club. The Internet is a powerful tool to facilitate social networking. There is still no Internet social network that allows people to create or manage events for in-person meetings.
The Internet is now one of the most popular ways to obtain and share information. Communication between people is a popular Internet activity, especially when people are separated by a great distance. Email, bulletin board, virtual chat rooms and blogs are some of the familiar technologies that help facilitate communication. These technologies and others are all essentially online.
The foregoing well-known Internet applications are designed to support geographically distributed communication and have no other objective.
Despite the ability to communicate online, many people are still interested in meeting in person with others who share the same interest in a topic, an event, or the like. It is necessary to use the Internet’s powerful communication capabilities to support and facilitate in-person gatherings related to topics or events (herein referred to as “gatherings”). The terms’meetings’ and gatherings’ are interchangeable, and refer to in-person gatherings. “Shall be used interchangeably, and shall refer to in-person meetings unless otherwise indicated.
The challenges of organising a real-world meeting are very different from the challenges of arranging an online meeting. Online chats, for example, are not affected by physical location, distance, venue availability, etc. “All of these factors, as well as intangibles like social dynamics and other considerations, make it more difficult to organize real-world events.
Communication tools on the Internet are not sufficient for this task.” Email alone is insufficient because there is no way to organize the search for people in the same area interested in the same topic as well as those who would be interested in attending a meeting. For the same reason, instant messaging and chat rooms are also inadequate.
The message boards and blogs alone are not sufficient because they do not allow users to start with a particular topic of interest, or an event. They then need to find a board or blog related to that topic or event and identify members of the board who live in the person’s locality and are interested in attending an event or topic-related meeting in person.
Internet dating and introduction services relate to the idea in-person meeting, but on a one to one basis. They are also agnostic in terms of the topic of interest. Instead, they focus on compatibility and the idea to form a relationship, not to meet in a group to discuss a topic of mutual interests. These services are essentially limited to one-off gatherings (non-recurring), and only in a single geographic location.
Internet newsgroups provide topic-related information, but they do not support a person who wishes to attend an event or topic-related meeting in his local area.
A fully automated system is one embodiment of the invention, in which the facilitation and coordination of meetings are not done by a designated group leader. A group leader is provided in another embodiment. The invention will first be described in the context of the leaderless embodiment and then, later, according to a leader-included embodiment. As part of the discussion, alternative embodiments will also be presented.
The illustrative and non-limiting embodiments described below of the present invention may overcome the disadvantages and difficulties in the prior art and provide solutions to additional disadvantages and issues that were not previously described. A system that follows the teachings in the present invention does not have to be used to solve any of the problems or disadvantages listed above. To determine the true scope and application of the invention, it is important to consult the appended claims.
It is an aspect to the invention that it provides a system and method to facilitate the creation, organization, scheduling, and participation of in-person meetings (also known as “real-world?”). “Group gatherings around a particular topic, event or similar.
The present invention can provide a computer system that organizes in-person meetings of users with topic-related interests. It may include a web-based management facility, which has a user-friendly interface, and allows multiple users to join multiple meeting groups, based at least on topic-related and geographical interest. A user joins a group when they become a member; and server-based announcements, which allow an organizer to control the release of time-staged announcements for a group of meeting based on a delivery parameter.
It is an aspect of the invention that a system or method can be used to organize real-world events on the same date in different locations for a specific topic.
It is another aspect of this invention to provide a voting system and method that facilitates the choice of a location for a real-world meeting on the topic of interest.
According to one embodiment of the invention, an organized system with computer assistance and a method are provided. The gatherings can be periodic. The minimum number of attendees can be predetermined. The location of a given gathering can be determined by voting or consensus. The method is centered on a particular topic or event, and includes selecting an event or topic of interest. It may also include specifying a geographic area for some of the periodic meetings. The method can also include selecting a physical site from a set of predetermined physical sites within the geographical area. The physical location can be selected based on a topic’s characteristics. Once the location has been selected, participants or potential participants may be informed of the next meeting and the location. You can send a request for a reservation or response. When there are too few reservations, the system can cancel the event and notify all participants. According to another embodiment, the computer-assisted method and system also includes receiving and storing the location of a participant and retrieving and presenting to that participant a list of possible venues to hold a gathering, based on a topic of interest identified, based upon the location received. This embodiment of the method may also include voting to select a preferred venue from a list of possible venues, and storing results.
The system can then decide on one or more venues, based on all of the participants who have provided locations that are related. It will also determine if a minimum of participants is present by comparing the number of confirmed attendees to a threshold. Once the minimum number is reached, the gathering will be scheduled at the one or more venues determined. The common participants are informed once the gatherings have been scheduled.Click here to view the patent on Google Patents.