Something is still missing when it comes to social networks

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 29, 2011, 12:15 AM | comments: 0

I feel like there's something right in front of me that's missing from social networks. Maybe the first problem is that people call them social networks. At the end of the day, aren't they really just communication tools? I mean, really strip it down, and Facebook or Google+ essentially are doing the work of "old time" phone companies, mail, TV and stone tablets.

The discussion about these tools almost always revolves around features and user experience and the usual software stuff. My head, however, is more on the intent. What am I really getting, or wanting, out of these tools? What is being missed?

Several blog posts, comments and other flying bits from friends lately remind me of one of the most critically missing things, and that's privacy. Technically, yes, Facebook is private by default, but segregating people by group once you have hundreds of friends is a pain, and people can search for you unless you explicitly turn that off. Google+ feels like it's too easy to just post everything in public, like on Twitter. In fact, it feels very much like a threaded version of Twitter.

Personally, I'd like a social network that no one knows about. Like Fight Club. You can't search for it. I could even see something like this used in a small company, all private like. Maybe I have one of these for my family, so Simon photos are never seen by anyone else (that would be a tragic decision, because he's too cute to be kept secret). Sounds a little like a friend list on Facebook, or a circle on Google+, but there's still an important distinction that there's nothing public about it. No like buttons or +1's or anything.

I suppose the problem with all of this is that's it's a great idea for people who want something like this, but terrible for a business because it's hard to say how it would make money. I still think it's a good idea. I want my Fight Club.


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