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Five Questions for Pete Forde – Looking Real Good

Pete Forde slaved away in the shadows of Microsoft development for a decade until Ruby on Rails clicked its heels three times, forcing Pete to help found Unspace. Demanding, innovative, and not a little eccentric, Pete is the sort of person whom interesting projects tend to follow around. Pete’s concern for quality is as much a personal drive as it is a professional one, and informs his approaches to programming and brainstorming with unwavering strength.
Pete has deftly handled clients from retail entities like Chapters to energy brokerages and government institutions — all while managing to drum in a rock band in his "spare" time. Dedicated to the idea of constructive community, Pete is the monthly host of Toronto Rails Pub Nite, and couldn’t be happier to go to work every day with the most intelligent people he’s ever met.

One Degree: What is Looking Real Good all about?

Looking Real Good is a fun, non-commercial web project where every day there is a new, interesting person on the homepage for 24 hours. People are encouraged to upload portraits of themselves, and describe where they come from and what they are passionate about. In contrast to similar concepts, we do not allow visitors to comment or vote on the photographs. We’re hoping a smiling face will inject some positive energy into your day when you get to work in the morning.

One Degree: How did you come about the idea, and what do hope to accomplish with it?

In Toronto we have NOW Magazine, which has a weekly My Style feature. My sister Lindsay is a talented costume designer; we both read that page even though it sucks. I wanted to support her work, as well as adapt the NOW feature for the web, but without the suck.
One common complaint in web development circles is that we have these specialized abilities, but they are often only used to realize the dreams of other people. Simple concepts like Looking Real Good are an opportunity to do something fun that hopefully makes the world a slightly more interesting place.

One Degree: What type of people are you looking/hoping to profile, and how have you been getting them to submit?  How can our readers submit their profiles to the site?

The folks currently on the site are all over the map in terms of the "type" of submission. We’re definitely biased towards interesting people, but we’re also looking for photography that is in the spirit of the other photos. Many of the people are from Toronto, but that’s changing as word of the project spreads across the world. I would like to see submissions from a wider age demographic, yet I can’t say I’m shocked that most people on the site are in their 20’s or 30’s.
Submission is easy; just sign up and press the Submit button!

One Degree: Your site has very modest goals for the end of the year – what is your growth strategy and do you intent to generate any revenues from the site?

Our goal is to have 100,000 people viewing the site every day, either through RSS syndication or coming to the site. The site isn’t intended to be revenue generating, and there will never be advertisements. Instead, our consulting company benefits from being associated with creative projects like this. Our clients come to us hoping to take advantage of the same talents and instincts that went into making Looking Real Good.
We hope that people will like what we’re doing and that word of the project will spread through blogs. We ask people to promote their photos to their friends.

One Degree: While the site is part user-generated content, part lark, and part enjoyment, how dies it fit into the social media space?

The project certainly qualifies as an online art installation, but it’s part of a larger ongoing experiment in building a social reputation economy. One view of the future is that what people think of you is more important than how much money you have. Our ability to direct the attention of thousands of curious people at a person – every day – implies a significant amount of influence, and this excites us.
Have you ever seen a great band or artist, and there was nobody there? Looking Real Good lets us build some buzz to help them get started.