Have you ever felt overloaded by noise coming from hundreds of so-called friends on facebook or twitter? Social pressure makes us accept connections with many people whom we barely know or care about. However, internet has not delivered yet any new and improved tool that would improve connection with the people that we care about most. We still use occasional emails, phonecalls and skype to chaotically communicate with our best friends. Even when we subscribe to their status updates on facebook or twitter, they rarely post intimate information about how they feel or what they are up to, because both mediums are public by default, and we see people adopt them to project their public image to those hundreds that do not really care about them. With rare exceptions, people adopted culture of posting their success or bragging stories spiced up with lol videos and jokes on those networks.
I think real friendship is much more than sharing favorite youtube videos or answering online quizzes. It is about sharing what you really think, even if this is not a popular opinion, without having to care how your potential employer might look at it couple of years later.
That is why I undertook to develop a new tool, that would keep me connected realtime to several people who have largest share of my heart. As I see it, such tool would have to satisfy several criterion
1) Limited number of connections, enforced by the system, to make each connection a limited and valuable resource. When you can make only limited number of connections (studies indicate that most people have less than 7 real friends) it makes you choose carefully, who you connect with. (Good study on this is available here http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2 by Paul Adams)
2) Be closed by default to encourage openminded expression. So, status feeds will be visible only to a bunch of real friends, no “like or retweet’" buttons. Well, maybe anonymous retweet, that would strip author’s identity.
This is what we have now with regular phonecalls and face-to-face meetings. However, communications technology can add more speed and convenience to this.
3) Be quick and immediate. Something like twitter from several closest people that goes right into your brain, not stopping even when you are not in front of your desktop at home or office. Also, quality of information, relevance, hopefully much better than twitter. Technically, it should be very easy to update own status and see what others have shared. I want it to work for anybody, anywhere. The best solution that I can think about, is … Well, I guess it rules out any expensive smartphones. Something simpler and more direct. Guess?
4) Finally, it should have means to encourage participation, because “lurker” model, where 10% of users generate 90% of content is not going to work here. I think about sort of quid pro quo arrangement, that would let you see others’ status updates, if you post your couple of time a day.