BITS and Bytes

For our first post of 2014, we have some exciting news.

A website is born!

It’s taken a long, long, loooong time, but we’ve finally gotten to the point where our ideas have crystalized into a real, working thing–and you get to check it out first!

OK, admittedly, it doesn’t do much yet, but what exists is the tip of a large pyramid that we’ve been building for years. It’s finally time to discuss how our company, Brain in the Sky, is going to change the face of conscientious consumerism.

This is a map of a part of the internet. The brain in the sky. Get it?

Wikimedia commons

This is a map of a part of the internet. The brain in the sky. Get it?

The vision for Brain in the Sky is to build software tools (our acronym is BITS, after all) for ethics-aware marketplaces. Today, it is clearer than ever how our decisions as consumers affect our world. We know that certain products are produced in a way that hurts our environment. We know that buying cheap likely means we’re not buying local. We know that not every product is built by employees who get fair treatment. We know that we express our ethics with every purchase, voting with our dollar to support production methods that matter to us.

The problem is: how do we know which products are the good ones? Marketing can be abused by unscrupulous companies. There isn’t enough bandwidth at the point of sale to clearly communicate how ethics differentiate one product from the next. And who has the time to research a company’s ethics when they just need to buy groceries? It’s hard to be a modern consumer.

That’s where we come in. We’ve built the Knife & Fork Project to harness the collective knowledge of food producers and consumers in a way that makes it easy to understand where your dollars go. In the store we acquire not just a product, but also that product’s ethics, and we all win when it’s easy to know the full story and make informed decisions.

And today, you get to join us as we take the first baby steps toward effortless ethics.

We’re building a web app to collect as much information as possible from producers and consumers about food. We’re going to use this information to match consumers to the foods which fit their ethics.

What if there were one aisle in the supermarket that contained only the products that fit you the best, or one block of your city that held just those restaurants which you want to support? Imagine if it were simple to find the most ethical egg, or when your favorite produce is available, or which restaurants deal directly with local farmers, all customized for your personal preferences. That’s the idea.

How does it all work?

Like this:

Seems clear enough

© Knife & Fork Project

Seems clear enough

Our first beta release, which we just put out, allows you to create an account and start entering in very basic data about food products. We’re not tracking ethics yet, but those features are due to land soon.

We’ve been hard at work building this site–we’ve written about 55 thousand lines of code so far–and we’re just now getting to the good stuff.

20 thousand slices of pizza?

© Knife & Fork Project

55 thousand slices of pizza?

We’re looking to raise a round of angel investment to bring in some good folks to grow our application into a fully-featured tool. We’ve got lots of ideas about where to go from here and we’re excited about what the future may hold for Brain in the Sky.

Get out there and give the Knife & Fork Project a look! Let us know if you experience any problems or have any ideas for features you’d like to see.