Monday, April 13, 2015

Social referral

Was thinking to myself that there's an odd thing about dominant social media companies in our time: they are content focused.

For instance, to really dominate on YouTube? You need to produce videos.

Want to wow people on Facebook? Then you need to post stuff.

Wish to rule Twitter? Then you need, well, I'm not as sure, but you do have to tweet something!

But for most people, how much content do you generate for others, even friends and family, on a daily basis?

That question is one for each individual, but for software developers, like me, and people looking for the next big opportunity, yeah, like me there too, it could be an opening to an entirely different approach to social media.

Just brainstorming this morning along these lines, which resonate with prior ideas, where I started thinking about something I call as a working title: CommunityRules

In CommunityRules you have groups, which people voluntarily join, which they can quit at any time, where you have to match by alignment, which you choose as well.

I posted about using alignment before, where the idea is for people to self-identify in ways that don't play into nasty prejudices, which is kind of hard. I already had to go back and edit as I think more on this issue. Here are some test alignments, which I think would belong to different groups:

conservative, religious, pragmatic

liberal, free spirit, creative

It's actually harder than I thought. Further brainstorming, I'm wondering if a twin-test process might help. With the twin test, imagine two identical twins, where one is a possible alignment, like religious, while the other is not. And to me that passes the twin test, indicating "religious" as a possible alignment, without an anti-alignment.

In contrast, if one twin aligns as conservative, and the other as liberal, that passes the twin test with those being anti-alignments, so the conservative twin could be in one group that aligns conservative, but could not join one that aligns liberal.

But his choice of alignment can be changed at any time, so if he wished to change it, then he could join the liberal group.

People can have natural groups, based on alignments, and formed groups, where individuals suggest a group and people can join. Those groups can vote on things, with consensus rules. That is, if the majority, as in greater than 50% of the group agree then the group agrees on majority, but if 2/3 of the group vote for it, then it's overwhelming support.

So what's the point of all this activity? Referral

Rather than focus on individual opinion about content, I'm brainstorming towards a group opinion about content, where groups can vote on things, like movies or television shows. Or books, or other things, but the focus is on the web.

The idea is to get great content, where people with known alignments tell you what they like.

Oh yeah, so with voting, your vote only counts while a member of the group, so the system automatically drops any votes with a particular alignment if you change it, or leave CommunityRules.

That way people can't just switch to something to try and force things against some other alignment and then switch back to their own. Also, like if you're conservative and switch to liberal to go mess with them, you'd be bounced out of all your conservative groups, automatically by the system, or vice versa, and would have to rejoin, after changing back.

To me alignment seems to offer some weird protections against some of the ways people try to mess with each other. And since it is public and by choice, where you can switch at any time, it's a very free and voluntary process.

So enough brainstorming out details. The gist of this path is to focus on referral versus producing content, as most people do the former not the latter, while current social web is focused on the latter. But referral has problems: how do you connect like-minded people? How do you limit people messing with each other? How do you stay away from dangerous things like racial, gender, or sexual or other prejudice?

And I've brainstormed a few approaches, which may or may not work, but I have a feeling I may have noticed something here.

Producing content is hard. Producing world class content is harder still.

Could the content-focused approach of the current web be sidelining people who can be brought into the conversation with a simple shift?

After all, everybody has an opinion, or so I've been told.

Oh yeah, I also have other ideas more specific about a social network, which goes back to my Globloc concept.

What would be needed to get all of this off the ground? A lot.

So I'm just throwing it out there open source.

That's enough typing for now. I emphasize it is brainstorming as part of that process is trying to NOT be too critical as the ideas flow. And that creative flow of ideas is a thrill. It's hard to explain, but it actually feels good. But I've had enough fun. Let's see, getting myself to stop typing, in a bit. Will add name and stop. Yup, after this sentence.

James Harris
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