I’ve been spending time recently reflecting on this theme of using technology to enable interactions with the real world. Many of the products I use regularly — Yelp, Foursquare, Meetup, Airbnb to name a few — are used with the explicit intent of finding or exploring new people or places. This is also reflected in how I use social media by following local accounts and frequently checking the local trending story or map to see what friends and neighbors are doing.
I’m clearly not alone in thinking about this topic. Facebook seems to be experimenting with this idea of local discovery more and more, which makes sense given recently revised mission to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
The entire concept of empowering real-life interactions is certainly not a new one and it comes in many forms. Travel, dining, events, dating, networking, job searching are all verticals with real human interactions that are served and aided by software solutions.
So many products and services today are optimizing for convenience and bringing the world to you. With the push of a button, you can have nearly anything you could ever want delivered to your door in 20 minutes. Any content you want to find is available on-demand on any device you own. There is certainly a valuable (and lucrative) market and case to be made for solving for convenience. Heck, Amazon has built a pretty impressive empire doing pretty much exactly this.
As humans, we benefit from building better, stronger relationships with our surroundings. We have an innate desire to see and explore the world around us. That is what excites me about optimizing and solving for better real-world interactions.