It struck me a few days ago reading a post by Johnathan Saragossi on thenextweb.com, that the next social network may be more “us” than “them.”
Saragossi’s piece offers broad ideas for what the next great social media platform might look like as Facebook burns toward flame out. And I wondered, what if the next social media THING is less third party site and is more first person narrative?
What if, after being habituated to rendering our lives as content on myspace and Facebook and the rest, we realized that we already carry shareable portions of our lives on our mobile devices. What if the next social structuring centered more on hardware rather than software and its creation was already staring us in the face?
“I’m a business man and a family man. I love collecting chairs and getting drunk on the weekends. I want to introduce all of these aspects to my network.”
If we really wanted to do that, we could, at least to the degrees mentioned there. That is the reason we caution social media users to understand that future employers may very well find those drunken college party pictures less than appealing. But Saragossi offers the idea that combining all of our different faces makes for a more complete picture of who we are and if we don’t want to do that, the next social thing will let us, encourage us, to create alternate profiles for ourselves.
Hardware lets us do that, by storing all of our many facets in one place and letting us choose with whom we share them and how. Already it does not have to be through a public-facing website. Directly, from my Apple hardware anyway, I can choose specific photo streams to share with only particular people. Sure it requires I be connected to the web, but without requiring me to set up a profile page for someone else to monetize.
This social network is sure to start as an app, and its core audience will be on mobile.
I speak from no great industry knowledge, but following my own logic, the core audience of course starts as mobile. We are mobile and documenting our own lives as we go along with our hardware. The apps are an afterthought to discover and be discovered by those people and things around us.
I’m thinking of Google Now, or the notification center on iOS devices. What if it could be made to tell us who was nearby based on our
hardware’s operating system’s settings? What if our devices were visible to other devices directly, sharing the information we wanted them to share?
The new social network should help us expand our horizons; it will be much more adventurous than the warm cozy environment Facebook has to offer.
Well what if you could tell Google Now how adventurous you were feeling and then it performed accordingly to aggregate events around you in the same way ban.jo and other apps aggregate local tweets and Facebook posts? On the other side, the people around you could set public or not their check-ins at the bar, the concert, the school play, etc. depending upon which of their multifaceted selves they wanted to show.
The next social network should be decentralized and each person will be the owner of his or her own content.
How is that anything other than each of us being masters of our own mobile devices and not being entirely dependent upon ad sales to keep them running.
The new social network should share profits with users who create the content … Taking it further, the new social network should provide simple solutions for product sales, real or virtual.
I mark it as the next of Saragossi’s tenets without knowing enough to elaborate except to say that content is being created by and through the mobile devices we carry. We can choose whether or not we plug into Facebook.
If stores can see us coming with iBeacon, can we let them drop a sales cookie on our hardware and share that with others in a way that, the next time we walk in, the store sees it was shared and can tell us thanks by giving us 10 percent off?
I drop this on the Oberlin blog here without a specific Oberlin reference except to add this: this line of thought relies on people’s proximity and perhaps restores something that was lost with the local phone book. It could help give us a sense of whatever physical community we’re in, less so a virtual community to which we offer ourselves. There may be no reason to get rid of the latter, but I can think of reasons to restore something of the former.