The original idea that turned into what is now known as MikiMoka has been evolving for quite sometime. Today, what seemed irrelevant at the time come together and create a simple, elegant solution to one of the most difficult questions of all time:
“How can one always feel at home?”
Iteration I: The Greeks, Germans and an Irishman
Erol was studying computer science at the University of Houston, Texas because of his love of computer games. One day he accidentally enrolled to a course which wasn’t a requirement for his degree. When the first lecture started, he met the man who would later become his master, Dr. John Michael Berry.
Since they got along quite well, they left the traditional teacher – student relationship behind and worked on difficult philosophical questions together. They have worked on the works of Rorty, Derrida, Popper, Heraclitus, Plato, Parmenides, Gadamer, Nietzsche and Heidegger. They have analyzed Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick and the works of Dostoevsky inch by inch.
After careful analyses of the tripartite soul concept in Plato’s Republic which lasted almost seven years, Erol’s way of looking at things has changed drastically. Since he was a developer with a keen interest in life simulators, he has worked on an application which could be used as a game development framework (Reality Check). This framework was intended to give game designers the ability to control the notions of reality of their stories. It created a distinction between the graphical elements, building blocks (or the notion of reality engine) and the story. When such distinctions were made, interactive stories would give the social scientists the experimental control they needed. Also, gamers would be able to live out their fantasies in a multiverse rich in alternate realities. This was the beginning of the MikiMoka concept. Without knowing, Erol took his first steps into what was going to become his most cherished passion: “distorting reality for the fun of it.” In a way, the MikiMoka concept has started 2,350 years ago.
Many of the concepts implemented in MikiMoka come from this unfinished work (1993 – 2006).
Iteration II: Not A Fan, Really
When Erol got back from the US, the social networks were showing off their first iterations. Everybody was talking about how they have found their old friends via Facebook. On the other hand, the idea was unbearable for Erol.
When the first social networks came about, I thought “I don’t want to find people I already know, I want to find new, more interesting people! I don’t like people I already know.”
Then, when the so called specialized social networks came about you were always required to present a certain aspect of yourself… all the time. It was like going to the school all over again. It was so boring!
Finally, the social networks which acted like sonar came about, but again they failed. These ones reduced you into a hormone or something. Some expected you to be horny all the time, while others helped people who were dying to exploit you.
Iteration III: Misfits Galore
While working in a variety of different projects, Erol has found his future partners one by one. He met Ercan during a submarine simulation workshop at TUBITAK. Later on, they worked in similar projects, because they shared a passion for software development methodologies, product quality and process improvement.
These are some of the topics they have worked on together:
First colleagues, then close friends, they frequently came together to discuss conceptual problems they found intriguing within the context of computer sciences. When Erol started writing his first book, Tek Yol Evrim! (¡Viva la evolución!), Ercan was right there, usually behind the scenes, helping him to explain his ideas better.
Then, came Derya. When Erol started working in a bank (Yeah, I know!), they worked on issues regarding team building, user satisfaction and process improvement together. They have conducted several different kinds of experiments and developed innovative ways of working in the enterprise. They even conducted orientations for the new developers which was a very popular conversation topic among the managers at the time. They had a great time together. Not a single day passed without a good laugh.
After the banking days, Erol accepted a position at one of the most sought-after startups in Europe, Markafoni. There he met his protégé, Aylin. At first only impressed by her natural abilities, in time Erol realized that he has finally found the missing piece of the puzzle.
Iteration IV: What’s Real and What’s Fake?
As each member got to know the others better, their conversations grew in depth. They all loved to talk about post-modernism, consumer culture and self expression. In the era of the ‘pseudo-knowledge’ (AKA Google searches), they kept on reading, listening, watching, writing, drawing and most of all, talking.
In parallel to all these, they enjoyed watching movies dealing with the concept of reality and contemplated on the ideas introduced there. Although The Matrix has always been their favorite, they lost the count of how many times they have watched The 13th Floor or Blade Runner. In addition to these movies, they learned a great deal from science-fiction themed TV Series not limited to but including Star Trek, The 4400, Babylon 5 and The Outer Limits.
Iteration V: Experimenting on Unsuspecting Friends and Family
Then, came the era of “The Management Issues in Computer Sciences” course series. When Erol began teaching at the Sabanci University, he was mainly looking for a way to conduct social experiments within the context of software development. Being a lucky guy, he has conducted several experiments for 7 years involving more than 80 people. These days, he is in the process of writing a book about these experiences, “The Lecture Notes on Management.”
Exams were an important part of these experiments where Erol told a story, put the students in a risky situation and asked a single question which could be answered either in five minutes or in three hours.
Since half of these lectures were practical, students formed groups, created projects and competed against each other, while at the same time handled the problems introduced into their ecosystem by their untrustworthy teacher, Erol. During one of the lectures, Erol decided to specify the nature of these projects to limit the spectrum of ideas. This approach would also turn the students into direct competitors. The sample project used in this experiment was called “The Equalizer” which created the second iteration of the MikiMoka concept. The problem being addressed here was helping out the people who cannot handle specific tasks on their own.
Iteration VI: So, You Want To Rule The World, Huh?
At the time MikiMoka was just a joke and Erol was working on another startup, Ufkunna. When this project hit a wall, it was cancelled. However, whatever inspired Erol was so strong that it gave him ideas for a variety of other projects.
When you are inspired by the greats, you want to go as high as possible. What happened to Icarus doesn’t frighten you. You ask for it!
Along the way, there have been several challenges, but it turns out that we can handle any twist. The word “problem” has lost its meaning, we see it as just another day and keep on moving forward. When a couple of good friends come together with a spectacular idea, they don’t even care how this story ends. Thrilled by the adventures ahead, they seize the day knowing all will end well!
So, what is it? Can you describe it in a single sentence or two?
MikiMoka is a mobile application that helps you to find people you don’t know but ought to meet, regardless of what you have in mind or where you are. While you create these relationships, MikiMoka uses this information to create an ideal world for you which has all the things you like and none of the things you don’t like. Using this world you will be able to see the physical world through your mind’s eye.
To put it bluntly, you will never use Facebook or LinkedIn or any one of their variations anymore.