Online date-stamped predictions?
February 13, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Is there somewhere on the internet to record date-stamped predictions?

In Daniel Dennett's 'Breaking The Spell', there's a bit where he explains that he is anticipating various poorly conceived criticisms about what he has written. As a sortof advance rebuff, he explains he has written down exactly how the critics will misrepresent what he has said, and mailed these arguments to himself in sealed envelopes, so that the postage date on the envelopes will attest to his prescience.

I don't know if this ever worked out for him, but I mention it because I want to do something roughly similar online.

Is there a website where I can record some predictions or text, in such a way that the date-stamp the website gives to my text will be reasonably reliable? (By that I mean, people will be able to generally trust that what I have written has not been backdated with a false date). And then, ideally, have my prediction lurk out of sight until such a time that I send a link to someone?

It doesn't have to stand up in court or anything, its just something that would be useful in certain debating situations...
posted by memebake to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Any blogging platform that doesn't allow people to re-date entries, and lets you post whatever you want, would work.
posted by delmoi at 11:47 AM on February 13, 2010

I don't know that this is exactly what you want but Long Bets is pretty cool and along those lines.
posted by ghharr at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: delmoi: OK, but _are_ there any blogging platforms that don't let you backdate? Blogger certainly allows it.

ghharr: Yes, longbets is the closest thing I've found so far (and is an awesome site), but I'm looking for something for more trivial, short term sorts of predictions.
posted by memebake at 11:57 AM on February 13, 2010

posted by Jaltcoh at 12:23 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wait, who's your audience? Who do you want to prove this to?
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:31 PM on February 13, 2010

If you're comfortable with getting into the guts of a CMS you could do up a site for this purpose using Drupal and the Calendar and CCK date field modules. You could have a view of a calendar with posts slated to come true on each day of the month, for example, and a past view colour-coded with predictions that either did or didn't come true.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:47 PM on February 13, 2010

Response by poster: Space coyote: If I build the site myself, there's no way to convince people that the predictions are not backdated. And this might only be something I need to do once or twice. I'm not generally in the business of predicting stuff.

Jalycoh: Basically, the audience is individual people, to whom I will eventually reveal myself as an insufferable smartarse when I sent them a link to something I posted a few months previous. Yes, metafilter has reliable date-stamping, but I can't just pepper it with ad-hoc trivial predictions.
posted by memebake at 12:59 PM on February 13, 2010

the audience is individual people

Who? Can you email them?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:01 PM on February 13, 2010

My first thought is posting to Google Groups (newsgroups), since it is reliable, public, unchangeable, and no one cares if you post junk. The last is important because you can encrypt your prediction so that it can't be read, and provide the decryption key to the person you want to provide proof.

Given that, the hole in this general scheme is that you must give the envelope or whatnot to the person in advance. You can't hold it back until needed, because it would be very easy to make all possible predictions, and only provide the correct one later.
posted by smackfu at 1:03 PM on February 13, 2010

Response by poster: Jaltcoh: Yes, its people I can email.

smackfu: OK, Google Groups sounds workable. The problem of the possibility of me making all possible predictions isn't going to get in the way too much.
posted by memebake at 1:10 PM on February 13, 2010

Yes, its people I can email.

OK, so email them the predictions. Make sure you keep a copy of the emails too (either save them in your "sent" box, or add yourself to the "to" field). When it's time to call attention to the past predictions, you can re-send it to them with the original message and date. They'll be able to check on the accuracy if they still have it in their archives. (Even if they happened to delete it, they'll assume you wouldn't lie about it since you would have no way to know they didn't still have your message). Or, if they're in the same room at the time, you can show your email computer to them in person.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:16 PM on February 13, 2010

(omit "computer" from that last sentence")
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:17 PM on February 13, 2010

Trusted time-stamping covers exactly this scenario.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite] can be re-purposed for this.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 5:08 PM on February 13, 2010

You can use the Wayback Machine to show that a web-page/blog-post was written before a certain date.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 3:35 AM on February 14, 2010

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