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Posts tagged ‘Social Networking’

An Introduction to OurPangea Part 2 of 4

What OurPangea Is Doing

panorama city globe villaConnection is great.  No one wants to be isolated. Through connection social networks have comforted us all against the idea that we’re alone in the world. However, being connected online doesn’t necessarily translate into a sense of connectedness. This connection doesn’t mean “having access to everyone in my network,” “interacting in a meaningful way,” or even “sharing with everyone.” Unfortunately, connection as utilized on social networks is all about numbers.  It’s a quantifiable measure of how many people you are “connected” to. There’s no way to define being connected via social networks besides the word connection.

OurPangea is introducing a new, community-centric approach to networking to make our connections more quality based by answering the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ behind our online connections. That is, how are we connected to these people and why is that important to us? OurPangea is making our connections more relevant to all of us by framing them around the interests we have and the locations of our groups and communities.

In the past weeks we have pointed out a number of disagreements with social networking, mainly:

  • Social networking is passive, which means it is not built to facilitate creating relationships outside of our existing circles (reactive networking model).
  • Relationships and connections are oversimplified and one-dimensional, which is not a true representation of how we interact with the people in our lives.
  • Popular social networking sites are beginning to value company growth and profitability over user-experience leading to a decrease in on-site engagement and an overall worse experience.

Because of this, we are collectively realizing that connection itself can only take us so far, and there’s no greater demonstration of this than the fact Facebook is larger and can connect more people than anything in history but that hasn’t made it better. In fact, people seem more willing than ever to leave the social networking site. So if connection doesn’t make our online experience better, what will?  And how do we get there? If today’s social networks connect us, the next step is gaining a sense of connectedness and community from our networks.

So we’re building a Community Network.  This type of network is proactive to make creating new relationships and engaging old ones easy.  It uses semantic connections for a better way to discover people and groups and remind us why those relationships are important to us.  And it will unite the world.

How? If social networking has connected us, then Community Networking will help us understand how we are connected to each other and why that connection is important.  It does this by organizing users by their location and their interests.  People will not only see how their existing relationships are valuable, but also be able to envision what relationships could be valuable that are outside of their networks.  So our networks will start to grow along with the benefits we bring, which will spread from person to person and community to community.

The Community Network is more accurate of the complexities of our real life relationships and groups and it’s designed to be a more fulfilling online representation of those interactions. In short, a Community Network is built to create a sense of community and belonging by enabling us to more easily discover, collaborate with, and engage the people and groups around us.

What Is Semantic Social Networking?

Semantics is not an entirely foreign notion in the world of social networks, but it has so far only been used to help link ideas and concepts together, not people. We want to take the idea of using semantics and make it social by creating meaningful connections not just between abstract concepts, but between people. Kind of like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with fewer degrees.

Ok, let’s break this down.

Semantics.  You’ve probably encountered this word before. Semantics is the study of meaning through the analysis of relationships. If you’ve heard anyone refer to the semantics of a sentence, all they are really talking about is how a sentence is worded.

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We have semantics to thank for explaining why “Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo” is a complete sentence.

The idea of semantic networking came into being over one hundred years ago and started as a simple framework to explain the relationship between different things. (How can a dog and a cat be linked semantically?  They both have fur.  That’s one oversimplified example). The general application behind semantic networking is actually pretty simple: just gather and organize data according to the things they have in common.

For example, I love to cook and you love to cook.  Now we have a semantic link between us.

Do you see where we’re going with this?  With social networking, it’s possible to bring the idea of semantic networking out of its purely conceptual mold and create a tangible, user-driven semantic social network. The application of a semantic social network can be a little more focused, purposeful, and explicit: organize people according to shared interests. 

It sounds simple, so why haven’t we seen this come to fruition yet?

Semantic theory on the world wide web has already fallen comfortably into search. Besides sporadic evidence that the industry is trying to make semantic framework applicable to social networks, such as Google’s purchase of a Semantic Social Networking patent, we have yet to see any legitimate examples of a semantic social network, which makes me think it is either being overlooked, ignored, or is secretly in development and soon to shake things up.

Personally, I’m hoping for the latter option.

What Collaboration Makes Possible

stop sign red vanilla iceThere is no denying the impact collaboration has had on all of our history. We tend to glorify the individual, but as Isaac Newton put it, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

We, in our time will only ever be able to build off the accomplishments of others. All new inventions, ideas, and theories stem from our place in history. A single idea may define the times, but it only ever appeared because of the times before it.

On a micro scale we see how collaboration has a major impact day to day as well. Each conversation, exchange, interaction, etc. are the result of collaboration. An argument with a friend is collaboration in the same way two musicians playing music together is collaboration. It’s about being alive with each other.

Collaboration makes everything possible. Even if a single person has an idea, only collaboration will make it great. People have to interact with it. And as people interact the idea changes and transforms into something much greater than the original idea alone.

When we look at social networks we can see that they are a result of collaboration, but they do not encourage collaboration. Collaboration is a process by which we interact with each other, share ideas and perspectives. Social networks as they are do not help us do this. In fact, the egocentric design of social networks inherently works against collaboration.

Social networks are designed for individuals to broadcast an image of themselves to the people they already know. Inherently, they limit collaboration in favor of an individualistic slant. They are not about doing things together; they are about what you have done. Every user is treated like an individual universe, which to a degree is accurate, but to the same degree it is also incomplete.

Social networking works, but it is currently inadequate for collaboration. Fundamentally, social networking is not made for collaboration. What is so incredible then, is that despite this inherent shortcoming, people are finding ways to use it for collaboration. We have a need for collaboration and interaction, and if social networks won’t provide what we need, something else must.

The Passive Social Network I of III

What made the Internet explode, what makes it great, and what we want is collaboration. The Internet allows humans across all boundaries to communicate and create with one another. It’s the most productive and useful feature the Internet offers. And currently, the Internet is explosively energized and active.

Collaboration and discovery are what make the Internet great. Then we have social networking, which adds an element of identity to it all. green time passive stareOn the Internet you now have your ‘Facebook self’ for better or for worse. One good thing is the use of real names that humanizes the Internet.

Social networking creates a virtual representation of you, but only when you choose to input information. Have you ever looked at someone’s profile that has nothing on it? That’s because the design of a social network is passive in nature; it relies on its users to do the work for them.

And it’s ok, because there are clearly social networks that make that model work for them. For OurPangea, we want something more. We want to do more of the work for the user so they are freer to explore, collaborate, and experience things with their friends. And not all of the friends they have ever collected, the friends that are with them now; either through our site or because of where they live. We don’t want to be a passive network.

OurPangea will not be a passive network.

We will not restrict your life to what you know, where you live, or what you do. OurPangea will be an active network. It will be a network filled with people who want to collaborate with you, not stare at your profile. Social networks are like a mirror; they are a shadow of who you are. OurPangea will be like a vehicle you designed; built specifically to take you where you want to go and help you discover things you never expected.

Collaboration and discovery make the Internet great, and we want them to make OurPangea great too.

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