Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Unfacebook

I am a huge fan of Facebook. I check in not as much as into my Gmail account, but it is close. I think things will only get better. I love the video clips I can access, the music, I am enamored with its personality tests. One test told me what I have long suspected, that I am "an advocating inventor." Too many people think of me as a politician. I also like the scrabble I saw and added yesterday. There is no time limit. You make your next move the next time you log in. Wow.

Most of my "friends" at Facebook are people I have never met though. I have met a few cool people who do interact, but most are people who okayed the friend request and then were gone.

In the way I use Facebook might be the germ of the Unfacebook.

Facebook is a walled garden. It is designed for you to more efficiently stay in touch with people who you already know. And I am thinking, what a waste.

What if you want to go online with the express intention of meeting people? Real people? People that you otherwise do not know, will not meet?

So you create a site. And it allows users to create an extremely detailed profile of who they are. Like extremely, extremely detailed. By the time you are done, it is a pretty good snapshot of who you are. Not everyone has to completely complete it, of course, and it is just that people will know how much of your profile you have completed.

So you create an account. And you log in. You complete your profile. Then you want to go meet people. How would that work?

People's names and photos will not show up when you do searches. Instead you will have to seek areas of interest, or hobbies. You will have the option to narrow down your geographical area. Maybe you just want people in your city. Or not.

It will not be just interest. It will also be level of interest.

There will be social interests, there will be cultural interests. There will be work related interests. There will be activity interests.

You seek grounds of common interest. And you explore the depth of the interest.

As you get to know each other more, you exercise the option to share a little bit more of your extremely detailed profile.

Detailed personality tests will be kind of mandatory. And there will be automatches based on pesonality type, areas of interest, geography, social choices, etc.

I guess what I am getting at is, you will get the name and the face of the person towards the end and not at the beginning like happens with the current hot social networking sites.

Often times you will meet people and strike a small conversation, and you realize you have run out of steam, there is nothing much to explore, nothing much to talk about anymore, and you move on. You don't bother to know more about the person, let alone learn their name and figure what they look like.

Or you might meet people you do want to share your name and face with early in the process, if you feel like it.

The power of the internet is not the people you already know. The power of the internet is people you can meet and get to know that you never would have if the internet were not there.

This concept can also be extended to group formation.

Groups would self form, grow or dissolve based on shared interest and engagement. And it could be scaled. Maybe there are 1,000 people who want to discuss the raging fires in Greece right now. But that group might have died out in about three weeks.

This will also work great for people who belong to ethnic groups that are small in number and are dispersed.

And of course the whole site should make great use of the rest of the web.

Maybe there should be automatic Google searches and YouTube searches for all areas of interest.

So if my interest is Barack Obama, I would get the top 5 headlines on him when I log in, and the headlines should be top, middle or bottom of the page depending on how much I am into Obama according to the system. Do I talk about him a lot?

The system should make room for degrees of friendship. There should be an entire spectrum.

Best friend is at one end. Block this person from my system should be another. He should never be able to contact me again.

There is the activity partner. There is the acquaintance. There is the colleague. There is the friend. There is the conversation partner, the game partner. There is the lover.

I think this Unfacebook is closer to our social realities and how we go about meeting people when we want to meet people and expand our social horizons.

Somebody could launch this Unfacebook, or like Facebook 2.0 was all the applications, Facebook 3.0 could be this Unfacebook. And if you do adopt this, invite me to sit your Board, fellas.

And after you feel like you have become friends with someone, you of course will have the option to bring them into your walled garden, into the Facebook 2.0 zone, the Facebook of today, the Ununfacebook.

Mark Andreessen, Facebook Fan: Analyzing the Facebook Platform, three weeks in

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