Social Media : The Glue of Contemporary Society?

Sticky glue

We are all connected. Facebook looks like the glue the world needed to connect us all. Alternatives like Twitter and Linked-in and Instagram connect people in a similar way. But social media also have an ugly downside.

Facebook has taught us to like and unfriend. It has taught us to be rude or unscrupulous towards both strangers and acquaintances. It has taught us to express our political opinions and to unfriend people because of these opinions. It has even pushed teenagers to suicide. It also has helped us to retrace old friends and stay in touch over long distances, to buy or sell second hand items, to view lots of cool videos we would never have seen otherwise. To hear the latest about people you know but rarely see or to help capture a criminal. Facebook is both a threat and a blessing.

But ask yourself : How many people on facebook do you talk to and how does that compare to your total number of facebook friends. How many of your friends posts do you actually pay attention to? How many have you hidden?

Although Facebook changes its algorithm regularly you get to see about 35 percent of your friends post. In some cases that is a good thing because you don’t really want to know every meal of the day some people still post. And those who are lonely do tend trying to gain attention by posting a lot of irrelevant things. Yet surely sometimes you want to read more from valuable friends.

But that is not really what this article is about. What we are after is more protection from the negative feelings and harassment. So I want to look in into the question if there is a way to reduce the threat of social media. To create a social medium that is more protective but that still keeps you in touch with the world. It may lose a few features but if people feel a lot safer that may well be worth the while.

How do you create such a social app?

I believe the primary condition is to make it an opt-in system where you automatically select who views what every time you share something. A system where it is easy to block people but where it is unlikely that you would given the nature of the app. The people that would end up in your friend list would be those in your phonebook. That means people you actually meet up with physically or that you value enough for a personal conversation. People who respect you. 

Opt-in means that you would select who you share your post with. Best way to do this would be to have groups where you can add or remove people or create new groups to your liking and just select a group to share something with. Mostly the group you shared an activity with and some people whom you want to share it with. But you are in charge. Is that technically feasible? No doubt. It is just a matter of combining functions that reduces selection processes so that the user is not bothered too much with picking who sees what and still has a feeling of control.

Another obvious question would be ‘is this commercially viable?’. Well think about it. What will drive you most to buy an item : a friend or an add? That means there is room for advertising for what a people like on their timeline so that their friends can see what they are following. I guess that answers the question mostly. Find out what they like and get their friends to see it.

Timing is of the Essence

clock-noon-time

Since its conception I have been struggling to find a way to present HowAbout to investors. Or actually to everyone. For as long as I was facing this problem I didn’t go actively looking for investors but used my own money. I read that investors only give you one chance and if you are not ready, you fail and it’s gone. Therefor there was no point in trying.

One would imagine that this would have put me under strain but the truth is I never doubted that I would find investors for HowAbout. I even felt I could permit myself to put down my pen and the whole project for a year and focus on priorities in my personal life. I was stuck anyway because the product at itself is way too extensive to explain in the usual five or ten minutes that you get for your pitch. I can only refer to a previous article posted here where I rebelled against ‘contemporary pitching’.

But one thing I always have believed in is ‘time’ or better ‘timing’. Complicated as it may be to explain, I do know very well that every product has its time. There comes a day where you no longer need to do too much explaining, a day where the market calls for a your product. I can situate this with a real life example. I used to be in the Fantasy games industry and a friend of mine had created a collectible card game. We went to a few game companies but it was new and complicated and nobody wanted to stick out their neck and produce it. And since in those days there was no Kickstarter we didn’t pursue the product. But six or seven year later a few guys in Seattle came up with a collectible card game called Magic : The Gathering. The gaming world had evolved and at the moment it was released there was real need for something new. It was the right time for a collectible card game and a few years later they were all millionaires.

I strongly believe now is the time for HowAbout to take it’s next step. It is the time for investors to step in and get his thing going and make money. There are many reasons. In a previous article I wrote about privacy. That was september 2016. Look how important it is now and how Facebook is struggling to keep its customers happy with their app. They desperately try to create false security but as long as their system is opt-out it will never be private. And so HowAbout is an opt-in system. It is based on privacy yet it still offers great opportunities for companies to do marketing and get sales. HowAbout is a completely valid alternative and a much better concept for the consumer.

But there is much more. Ebay is struggling to obtain growth because their business model stands in their way and they have no idea how to address emerging markets where their concept is just a rock in a pond. Google has overstretched itself and nobody sees it or has found a way to take advantage of this.  Real improvement in professional software like Outlook is nowhere to be seen. Other professional software companies don’t bother to make a mobile version of their application. It is as if half of the world’s software development is standing still due to lack of real innovative ideas. HowAbout has an answer to each of these.

Because of all this we obviously have thrown around our release schedule. We are now aiming at two big releases next year iso five spread over five years. When the market is ready you have to be ready as well.

The Privacy Thing

images

In our May article on Google’s ‘Allo’ application, we already suggested the app looks much of a governmental spying tool on your private communications. Now, RT reports Edward Snowden is saying the same thing. Google has backed away from it’s privacy promises and given 100% availability of conversations on police requests and neglected the privacy settings of the individual users.

And recently, Facebook announced that Whatsapp data will be shared with Facebook, and since Facebook is also in the pocket of the US government, those data are no longer safe either.

Makes you wonder why people keep using Whatsapp and Messenger, although we can imagine China will be screening Wechat communication as well. Research and Snowden already pointed out that Microsoft’s Skype is also very likely to be unsafe. All togehter these three take the greater part of mobile communication in the US. As if there are no safer alternatives, it almost feels like US citizens WANT to give up their privacy.

This rises the question whether the public is simply conceding. Are we giving up privacy because the govt. can probably get our data anyway? Is this the way society is going to move forwards? With governmental efforts on enforcing the ‘cashless society’ on us, it is likely that people will end up accepting the idea that governments will be able to get to your money if they want to. Will they concede to that as well in time?

I strongly believe an alternative should be constructed where free circulation of money and communication is possible without governmental control. I believe terrorism is just an excuse for governments to getting their hands on more taxes and to control the money in case they screw up the economy. The fact that countries, states and municipalities are more and more unable to pay the high cost of the welfare state illustrates this vividly.

 

 

 

 

 

140

Like so many others, I was surprised to see the announcement from twitter to move from 140 to 10.000 characters, thus destroying the whole concept of their application. I surely don’t have to spell this out for you. There are many popular public ways to share a statement that long, Facebook as the leading candidate. There is no way and no need for Twitter to compete with that.

Personally I never was so fond of the twitter concept though. The main reason is obvious : almost every week you see apologies from famous people or company leaders for tweets that were sent in haste or high emotions. I always thought there should be a warning on the ‘send tweet’ page : “The world is listening. Be respectful and think before you send.” Unless of course you consider bad advertising is also advertising, which obviously is true.

Never the less, I would prefer a shoutout like this to go no further than my friends circle. Utter my frustration where there is a better chance that I won’t get publicly humiliated. My friends know me, they understand I often say things I don’t mean. Do you?

Sources :

http://fortune.com/2016/03/19/twitter-keeps-140-character-limit/

UPDATE : Twitter will no longer count links as part of the message sent so you will soon have 140 actual characters for it. It’s about time.