There are two types of networks, reactive and proactive. When we look at the field of social networking this becomes very important to understand. The difference is that of a ‘website serving you’ versus ‘you serving a website’.
The reactive network is built off the connections I have already made. It reacts to what I have already done. It helps me keep track of the relationships I have built, but it does not help me create new ones. It’s not built as a tool for me to wield , it’s built as a tool to record and observe. I have to put all of my information in before their network starts to do any work for me. On Facebook I have to import all of my friends before I start to see any value from their product. It works for me, but only after I have done the work.
On my social network I have to import all of the people I have already met so the social network can start providing value. Before I put my relationships in there is no value offered; it’s a function of me and totally reliant on my cooperation. Once I put my relationships in I can start to mildly interact with them via photos, apps, and messaging. Even then, the reactive social network is not really designed around the interaction. It’s designed to record what I do, but doesn’t really facilitate much action or exchange. It’s built to be a history, a timeline, not a living environment.
The bottom line is even though reactive networks work correctly according to their design, they are restrained by being reactive. There are other ways to build a network. And I think the correct way to build a network is by making it proactive, not reactive.
In a proactive network we would be able to explore new and old relationships. We wouldn’t have to import our personal lives, we would find it in the network. Your friend groups, communities, and curiosities will all be there for you to freely interact with. It’s like being given a box of Legos to build with; a reactive network being more like a solid statue, fixed into being and not manipulable. A proactive network is an environment you can interact with. It’s not a reactive network because it’s built for you to use, not to use you. It ‘s not reliant on you importing your life and doing all of the work, it’s about creating your life and exploring all the possibilities.
With my proactive network I would be able to reach out to people I have never met but are in pursuit of similar interests. I would be able to learn more about the cultures and people I discover. I would be able to break out of my shell and explore everything.
Proactive networks would allow me to define what online environment I interact with instead of having it algorithmically presented to me as the reactive network does. When I get to choose my environment I’ll be able to make new relationships instead of having only the existing ones I’ve submitted. A reactive system only has the relationships I already have, whereas a proactive network will offer me all possible relationships to choose from including the ones I have.
The proactive network is a living environment where all users coexist together. It’s a free environment to explore as I like. It’s a proactive network that encourages me to collaborate and exchange with everyone.