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Autopond
by Josh Goldfoot
Copyright (c) 2000

Autopond builds community by causing users to cooperate with each other in winning a game in which the whole world is on the same team. Each user, upon loading Autopond for the first time, is assigned the permanent goal of obtaining 5 specific cards, chosen from 120 possible cards. Each user starts the game with 7 cards, none of them useful to the user. Users trade cards with each other by beaming them back and forth as part of mutually acceptable trades. A user can also win a new card by beaming the Autopond application to a new player. Each time two players meet, they exchange information about every other player they know and what cards those players are looking for. This allows players to find and meet each other, and cooperate in helping each other win the game.

Collectively, the game and its players form an autopoetic unity. Autopoetic unities are networks of production of components that recursively, through their interactions, generate and realize the network that produces them. Autopoetic unities store decentralized information, with each component storing the information most important to it in its own memory, but only rarely storing all available information. Because there is no true unity of information, the autopoetic unity creates a completely dynamic network that can be seamlessly split and rejoined.

Use notes

The first time you run Autopond, you will be asked to enter a name and a note to share with the world. You will not be able to change your name later, so be careful. You will be able to change the note later. Don't use a name or put any information into the note that you won't mind being shown to a lot of people you may not know.

From Autopond's main screen, you can see the seven cards you start the game with, plus your five goal cards. You also have access to four basic commands: Meet, Trade, View, and Spread.

Meet

The Meet command is the most fundamental part of Autopond. When you encounter another Autopond player, align the infrared ports on your Palm OS computers. One of you should then press the "Meet" button. Your computer will tell your friend's computer about you and your goals, and your friend's computer will reciprocate with the same information. Then, you will tell your friend's computer about everyone else you know, and your friend's computer will reciprocate. The more people you meet with, the more complete your knowledge and the stronger the autopoetic unity. 

Trade

Use the Trade command to offer an exchange with another Autopond player. After Meeting the player, tap the Trade button. The Trade dialog box displays all of your cards, and all of your friend's cards. The numbers after each card represent the number of players you know of who have that card as their goal - this gives you an idea of the value of the card. Select the cards you wish to receive, and the cards you are willing to give up in return. Then press "Offer." Your offer will be sent to the other player. If the other player accepts, he will send back an acceptance, and the trade will be successful. 

Spread

The Spread command lets you beam the entire Autopond application to a Palm OS user who doesn't have it yet. It's to your benefit to Spread to as many other Palm users as you can, because each time you Spread you will receive a free card. You won't get a free card if you beam Autopond with the Application Launcher, however. Be sure to Meet with the user after you Spread to him.

View

The View command lets you see everyone in your contacts database. It displays their names in a list. Next to each name is the Degrees of Separation between you and that player: 0 for people you've met yourself, 1 for people the 0's have met, 2 for people the 1's have met, and so on. An asterisk ("*") next to someone's name means that you have a card that is one of their goal cards. Click on a name and click the "Details" button, and you will see details about them: their goal cards and their "note," which might contain contact information. 

Score breakdown

Your Score is always displayed on the main page. You can choose Score Breakdown from the Unity menu to see why your score is what it is. Scoring is as follows:
  • 250 points for each goal card you actually possess
  • 10 points per person having a goal card that you possess (i.e. if you know of 5 people who want Tomb, and you have Tomb, then you get 50 points from that card)
  • 1 point for each person you know of, however indirectly.
Note that your Score will always go up (and never go down) as you Meet new people.

Hot cards

From the Unity menu, "Hot Cards" lets you see the eight highest-demand cards, based on what you know about what other players' goals are. The ranking will change as you Meet new people. Your score depends in part on how popular the cards you have are with other users.
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