I dreamt that I drove in pitch darkness with an empty fuel tank in the middle of nowhere only to get to my best friend so he could tell me about his idea for a startup. Now that I woke up, I still think it’s an incredible idea. Since both of us lack the resources to actually pull it through, I’m going to share it with the rest of the world and if anyone interested in picking it up, talk to me.
He named the idea “Among friends” and it’s essentially like classified ads but slightly more interesting, because it’ll have things like “I have 2 giveaway tickets for a show in Glasgow tomorrow night” or “any interesting hiking ideas for the weekend?” or “I’m looking for interesting vegan dessert recipes”. My friends can provide suggestions or link to other people posts (such as “I’m looking for tickets for tomorrow’s show!”). Imagine classified ads that are prioritised by your friendship relatedness.
The things you offer or look for can have an expiration date, making them more critical and important ; They can be location-based to make them more relevant, but the important part is that your actions get scored: If all I do is giving loads of shitty tips, I’m just spamming the system; but if I help people solve their problems, I become a valuable friend. If I re-post a friend’s problem or vouch for a solution I help resolving a problem.
The technical challenging part of building such a system would be understanding the text, in order to avoid context-based forms (“oh, a recipe? so fill in the ingredients and the instructions and tag whether it’s gluten-free or vegan or kosher…”). Forms discourage people. The system should work in plain language.
The future of social networks is in a turmoil as Facebook are checking the boundaries of what they can do and how can they profit, following their connection to the US election fiasco. Their business model has evolved tremendously over the years but in general, it always went towards the hyped “status” (or “public notifications”) as used by twitter. For that job, I think twitter is great (it was even better when it forced messages to be condensed) and I would leave that aside. I dare to think that the next stage in social networks evolution won’t be about what you got to say, rather then what you got to offer to solve my questions.