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The Bank That Keeps on Giving:

“Did you know men want impeachment more than women? Whereas 66 percent of men on Avanoo want to impeach the President… only 52 percent of women want it. Perhaps this is because men are a little rasher… a little less forgiving.”

This is one of many comments posted on the new web site avanoo.com, aka the Community Wisdom Bank. It’s the brainchild of Venice resident Daniel Jacobs and his partner, Wilfred Sage. Jacobs emphasizes that the Community Wisdom Bank is different from other “question and answer” sites because it allows users to see the answers of a particular “community” (demographic group).

“What it offers at the basic level is perspective,” Jacobs explains. “If I were to ask a question – it could be a serious question of politics like George Bush’s job performance or maybe a sillier question like what’s the best pick-up line to use on a girl – I could go to an expert like Dr. Phil or my mother or my best friend. But the problem with experts is they don’t have perspective. Dr. Phil is 65 years old. He knows nothing about what a girl might prefer for a pick-up line.

“The other thing I could do is I could go to a crowd on Yahoo! Answers or if we’re talking politics I could go to a Gallup Poll. The trouble with asking a crowd is I don’t know who’s in that crowd.”

What Jacobs wanted – and what he and Sage were able to come up with – was a technology that would collect responses to questions and sort them by “community.” Each question that is “deposited” on Avanoo is displayed with the overall results: the percentage of replies, how many “yes” or “no” responses. But the user can then search for the responses of a particular “community” by going to “custom wisdom” and choosing a profile that includes country, state, age group, gender, income level, etc. In this way, a user might discover that in the general Avanoo community, 98 percent of respondents think that sex with more than one partner constitutes cheating – but while 97.7 percent of male respondents agree with this opinion, 100 percent of female respondents agree.

Jacobs got the idea for the Community Wisdom Bank while he was working on a project for a never-finished documentary in which he endeavored to date a woman in each of the United States to find out “what women really want.” But he eventually realized: “I couldn’t tell you what certain women wanted because women wanted very different things depending on who they were and what communities they were [in].”

Jacobs recalled that he had heard “some really amazing stories” about Sage, who, like himself, had attended Williams College in Massachusetts. He called Sage and told him of his idea. They were able to rope in some business sponsors and launched Avanoo, the Community Wisdom Bank, on May 23.

Why does Jacobs call the data collected by the Community Wisdom Bank “wisdom”?

“Because we believe that wisdom is the world’s most precious resource. Wisdom we think is knowledge and perspective from life experience.

“We want to give everybody total access to wisdom. Other systems have access to market research that they charge many thousands of dollars for and that they allow only corporations to share. We want to be totally open and available to everybody.

“The great thing about the Community Wisdom Bank is that when you make a deposit by answering a question, you not only have access to your own wisdom but to everybody else who’s answered that question. You don’t withdraw wisdom. It just builds and builds.”

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