The social app
by David S. Hestrin
This was written initially as a post for my nextdoor.com network, but I’m publishing it here to re-iterate some of the goals/purpose of the social platform and to explain it to new people. Here goes:
You can join the app currently here: http://www.betterearthinstitute.org/connect/
It currently puts people in an x y coordinate system based on their latitude and longitude (and people can move anywhere they want).
Instead of focusing on a status feed for sharing, people share into their own space, and others can choose to pay attention to who they want, when they want. We expect this to facilitate a greater quantity of sharing since people do not have to feel like they’re grabbing the mic or standing on a soap box shouting to everyone something (like I’m doing now). It also allows people to more easily have a stable broadcasted message like broadcasting their business availability or if there’s some specific message they’d consistently like people to see when they attend to their digital presence (like wearing a t-shirt or handing out business cards).
In other words, with a status feed, it would not be appropriate for someone like myself to every single day post something saying “I’m available for tutoring today”, but with my design, it’s totally fine for me to have a place on the map to have that clearly written and in the view of whoever is next to it. And conversely, people are unlikely to post everyday “I need help with _____” or “I still want attention to be paid to ______” even though their need may not have been met yet. Status feeds have their value certainly, but things can just drop to the bottom or disappear OR they become quite popular and then people have to see them again and again who don’t want to see it.
I believe that we should have the best of all worlds communicatively.
In the real world, if we’re not interested in what someone’s saying, we usually can indicate that to them and they usually won’t press on because it’s a waste of breath, also, we CAN indicate to people that we’re interested by moving closer to them. This is part of what the app facilitates. I think community is extremely important and that the internet facilitates amazing connectivity, but I think we’re missing out A LOT when we rely on unpaid services from huge companies that want to maximize profits. It puts users at the mercy of whatever manipulation companies want to do in order to make money whether that means interruption advertisements or data mining.
I believe that there are likely long term psychological manipulations at play in other apps in order to make us better consumers – and that this is valued above depth of communication.
Furthermore, I don’t think it should be a goal to maximize time spent on the app. I think people interacting in person is better in general, and the apps should enrich people’s lives not just the owners of the app. Also in other apps you can’t tell who’s paying attention and when. I post on facebook to my hundreds of friends and maybe I get a few likes but I have no idea who even saw it. On my app, you can/will be able to actively see who sees your content for a much more dynamic live experience. There’s a chat feature that’s radius based so that anyone within a certain vicinity can automatically join this chat simply by moving or being within that radius – this allows people to feel like they’re joining active “hanging out” or meetings or social interaction between new people – and also since you can see who’s talking to you, you could make new friends by seeing someone you already know talking to someone new and then join perhaps more easily or simply ask about the person because you’re actually seeing social interactions (which are somewhat hidden on other sites… you don’t see when someone sends a private message to someone on facebook).
That said, most of the features that are good from other platforms can be added as well.
Anyhow, if you want to know more you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4koU7HE96Y&t=314s