A new kind of network.
What if we built a network from the ground up that was centered around the concept of connecting people based on who they are?
Typical social networks have been built around ideas like who you already know (Facebook) and where you’ve worked (LinkedIn).
We’ve made Twitter into a tool that allows us to connect with and interact with people based on the kinds of stuff we share.
However, it wasn’t built around this concept exactly. It was really built around the idea of making it easy to share quick updates with people we know. (Remember: the concept of a “re-tweet”, an @ reply, and “hashtags” came from the community).
The fact that we’ve collectively hacked it for the purpose of sharing and connecting with a new group of people might say more about our demands than it does about the service itself. (As much as I love Twitter).
The challenge of building a network that allows us to connect based on who we “are” rather than other, more traditional, social constructs is that personal identity is much more complicated than concepts like “your friends” or “who you worked with”.
Personal identity is hard enough for us to come to terms with ourselves, much less design a service around.
However, there does seem to be potential here.
It just doesn’t make sense that we should construct our social networks in the future based on physical categories like “where you happened to be born”, or “where you went to school”, or “where you worked’, when we are connected through digital means to every person on the planet.
We should have more nuanced / more flexible ways of connecting with folks and developing networks over time.
I’m not sure exactly what such a service would look like, and in some ways, given that Twitter works pretty well and now Medium is coming along, it could be that this is a “Craigslist” type issue (meaning: craigslist hasn’t changed in ages but it works “well enough” for its purpose).
That said: if someone were to build such a network, it could be pretty amazing.
Because if we’re able to more efficiently and effectively connect with others, it would probably make us happier and more productive. And it might make the world a little better too.