"Basically, if I'm awake then I'm working" ... Shane Greenup on Villarica Volcano.
The web can be a valuable source of knowledge, but as everybody knows, it’s also full of inane, incorrect and often painful rambling.
So imagine if you could find a rebuttal for any argument you find?
Rbutr - an app built by New South Wales-based entrepreneur Shane Greenup, 31, and coder Craig O'Shannessy - crowd-sources counter-arguments on a range of subjects. Using Rbutr, you can read any comebacks already added by Rbutr users or type a new one, spreading your knowledge.
The spark for the critical thinking app, which debuted in February, was an obscure online scientific report that Greenup wanted to debunk.
Soon, his start-up, which now has Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer on board as an advisor, "exploded", Greenup says. In April, the news site Ventureburn named Rbutr one of the 10 start-ups capable of changing the face of news. Rbutr is also among the finalists for a $250,000 prize offered by the media innovation contest Knight News Challenge.
Plus, Greenup has received $40,000 from the Chilean government global incubator Start-up Chile.
Originally, the Chile cash was meant for Greenup's mapping project Immortal Outdoors, but as Rbutr developed, he focused on the argument app.
Here, speaking from Chile at 2am, Greenup - a philosophy and molecular biology major - addresses the business side of the app that he says fuels debate not flame wars.
Apps are notoriously hard to 'monetise' - how will you make money from Rbutr?
I really can't go into detail, because there isn't any yet. At this stage, it's just about making everything work.
What do you live off?
At the moment, I'm just getting more and more into debt, but I do have an affiliate marketing website that earns me a small income. That helps. And my partner does freelance work as well.
Does Rbutr have business uses?
Yes, it has applications for just about every facet of life. We're focusing on the sceptic side of things, but in business there are questions as to ideal strategies, ways for entrepreneurs to work.
So, anywhere that there's a discussion where someone has one perspective and someone else disagrees, Rbutr is a way of facilitating that discussion on the internet between websites.
What is the most surprising discovery you have made through Rbutr?
It has helped me 'refine' because, now, any time I do form a belief - a new one or in a controversial subject area - I do go looking for rebuttals.And so it's not so much that I've changed my views but I'm much more cautious before I start accepting anything.
During everyday debate, do you ever lose your cool?
I think I'm very good at sticking to discourse (everyone gets emotional at one point or another). I think my ability to stay somewhat calm in most discussions actually comes from the internet.
I spent many years getting into heated arguments in forums. And that's where I learned a lot about how easily I can be proven wrong - and it taught me a lot of humility in my debating.
What hours do you work?
Basically, if I'm awake then I'm working, unless - I went snowboarding yesterday.
What drives you?
Rbutr is a simple idea, but the implications for human knowledge I think can be huge. That really motivates me.
What's your advice to anyone thinking of launching a start-up?
Have some money. Have an income source...But for me it is the passion. If it's something that you really want to work on, then you'll find a way. So find something you're passionate about - and find a way to survive while you give in to your passion.