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Posts tagged ‘facebook’

A Conversation Over a Gyro

A few days ago I took a visit to our apartment’s corner convenience store for a gyro. After a short wait, my friend and gyro chef extraordinaire Gabbiano paused before handing over the goods.

gyro lettuce tomatoes lamb delicious

“Can I ask you a question?” he started, with a hint of frustration. “How do I find someone online?  I have a name, but nothing came up on Facebook or Google. What’s the best way to find them?”

My mind spun. This was a perfect way to introduce someone to OurPangea and a textbook example of what it makes easier in day-to-day terms. In other words, this should’ve been a slam dunk answer. I wanted to tell him to sign-up for OurPangea which would let him find anyone as long as he knew the name or community the person is in (for example, Austin, Texas or Texas Gyro-lovers). I wished I could say “no prob, Gabbiano.  Just sign up, type in your friend’s name, and everyone that matches will show up. From there you can narrow it down by location.”

However, OurPangea is not live, so instead of those things I wanted to tell Gabbiano, I shrugged and answered, “Facebook and Google are really the best way right now.”  Seeing frustration and disappointment on his face I wished him luck and encouraged him that once our system was up this type of thing would be much easier.

A couple days later Noah and I were grabbing lunch with a few people to give a quick demo of our prototype and get their thoughts. We started off by going through the photos, a feature that aggregates all photos uploaded within a community’s groups. Through voting, the most popular photos become the main profile photo that represents the entire community.  Our friends thought that was so cool.  They started to imagine the possibilities themselves.

What if I took the photo that defined my city?

These two conversations happened independently, in a relatively short period of time. It says to us that what we’re doing is something that people want to use and see the value in.  We want your actions to have an impact on the community around you, and we created OurPangea to broadcast the most popular content, photos, and people of any given community. Picture how much value your interactions (posts, photos, events, opinions) could add if each public activity was broadcast to your city en masse? Your college or residence hall would be changed forever.

We’re into community building. We think there should be a better way to discover and participate in your communities. We’ve found a better way to represent real-life communities online by crowdsourcing the culture that makes them unique.

That’s what we’re doing. What you do with OurPangea is up to you.

The Why In Community

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For the longest time community was all we had. It was vital to survival. Over time we forged civilizations to support us, but our community roots never left, they adapted. Today, in the fast paced modern world a sense of community is as important as ever. We seek it out in the area surrounding us and we seek it out online. When we seek community online and offline we gain a sense of belonging from what we find. If only the two were more closely intertwined. 

What if I could use the Internet to find the communities around me? What if the communities around me were also online?

I can use Google.com if I know exactly what I am looking for, and even then it won’t drum up communities as readily as I’d like.

I can use Facebook.com to get in contact with the people I already know.

I can use Meetup.com to find a few events in my area or any other event site for that matter.

But there is nothing I can use to discover the communities around me and actually participate and feel welcome in them. The Internet remains its own place. There are some forum communities on the Internet but I can’t easily use these to meet new people in my area. The ability to find local communities is missing on the web, and inversely, real life communities don’t use the web to bridge the period of time the people are away.

If we created a place on the web to replicate the communities you’re a part of we’ll create a place where other people can go to find you, and where you can go to find them. We need to do a better job of using the web to create and aid communities. We need OurPangea.

The Unguided Social Network III of III

sea water waves pensive personPerhaps they are unguided by choice. Perhaps they are unguided because of circumstance. But no social network can survive without a reason for being. And OurPangea chooses unity. It’ll be opt-in, because you should never feel like you need to join because everyone else is, you should choose to be a part of it because you want to get something out of it.

We, as people, as a people need purpose. We want to grow and learn. And we want to be ourselves. So when we choose our social network let’s make sure they deliver what we need.

We all want to be a part of something; it’s just a matter of choosing what you want to be a part of. The mission matters to us. So when we say we will resurrect OurPangea, when we say we will unite the world, and when we say we are Pangeans we are saying what mission we choose to be a part of. It won’t happen all at once, and we will have to wait, but now, it’s just a matter of time.

Social networks shouldn’t exist to make money alone; their core purpose cannot be selfish. A true social product is about the people it serves, not about itself. Nothing should be done for the glory of the network; it should be done for the glory and good of all. And this isn’t saying that making money is bad, and it isn’t saying corporations are bad. In fact, both of those may be necessary to achieve a mission. In the end, what’s important is the mission.

For OurPangea, we choose culture. Facebook has chosen APIs and advertising as theirs, Google doesn’t want to be evil, and OurPangea wants to unite the world.

It’s simple. It’s cut and dry. It’s the mission that matters and it’s the unguided that fail.

Facebook: The Great Aggregator

Social networking is old enough that the pervasive ‘one network to rule them all’ frame of mind isn’t reflective of the online world anymore.  We’ve written in previous posts about the increasing success and persistent presence of smaller niche networks.  Looking back on where the industry used to be, the success of these would have been hard to predict.  Just a few years ago, the social media world was saturated with social aggregating services (remember Iminta, Socialthing, and Plaxo Pulse?).  The prominence of these services seemed to hint that what made sense for the Internet and what users wanted was one service to bring everything together, to be able to manage everything from one site.  That still sounds pretty good, what happened to that?

Where the aggregator systems proved extremely efficient at bringing information together, they proved extremely inefficient at offering an engaging or unique experience. We began to realize that they were just unnecessary middlemen to using an actual social network. It may have sounded convenient to use one site instead of many, but the truth with the model behind these aggregators was the advantages of using one boring site never outweighed the hassle of engaging with multiple sites.  As a result the aggregator ‘movement’ became decreasingly relevant.

Facebook may rightly be credited for preventing the spread and long-term success of aggregators indirectly.  At the time Facebook provided its users with a very engaging and useful product.   Aggregators, regardless of how much content they pumped through, just couldn’t match the experience that Facebook had.    Facebook was on one side with one-of-a-kind engagement and aggregators were on the other with straight-up content sharing.  Engagement won out, hands down.

Today Facebook isn’t the only kid on the block with a shiny bike.  Other networks found their niches, their biggest fans, and now everyone has a nice bike. Today, it’s becoming perfectly acceptable and even desired to be active members in a number of smaller but purposeful and focused networks.  Each of these networks needs to engage its users, and this means that there are now hundreds of engaging social networks that all provide users with unique, effective experiences.  So today we have many other sites that are able to engage just as well as Facebook.

Furthermore, Facebook’s engaging experience has started to become diluted not only because of advertising, but also because of the Facebook API system, the Like button, and Facebook Connect.  An indirect consequence of these means more and more third party content is populating Facebook, as opposed to closer to 100% original content when they were battling the aggregators.

So what does this mean?  It could mean that Facebook is becoming the world’s largest aggregator.

facebook letters filter icon

“Now that I’m looking at it, you’re right. This rebranding experiment was probably not our best idea.”

To OurPangea, this means we can’t be complacent.  We like the idea of having one site that has the ability to fulfill our online social selves, but it has to be engaging.  We don’t want it to be conventional for our networks to start valuing pushing through third-party content over original user-generated content. We want a place to be engaged, a place where we all have value and where we can be ourselves.  OurPangea.com is a place where we can share the things we love.  And best of all it is a place where there are other people who will be there to share that passion with us.

Our cause is unity through collaboration and our mission is to make the world better.  It is also to make the Internet better.  Let’s be original.

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