So, as of Monday, I'm one of those annoying people with a super-cool mobile phone with which I can do everything. I got an Orange SPV C500, and this tiny phone has a camera / camcorder and runs on Windows Mobile. I set up all my email accounts, I can log on to MSN and Yahoo! IM, and the web-browsing experience is actually not bad. The only pain in the ass for me is typing with the numeric keypad. At least for a few hours at a time, I can actually fool my boss into thinking I'm at work even when I'm out for a walk or something.
And when I was out for a walk yesterday, I got to thinking about how tens of millions of people around the world are using such incredibly sophisticated technology...but we aren't necessarily using it very wisely. We communicate with people we already know in new ways, but the technology doesn't always enhance our lives. In fact, my last two days have been spent learning how to use this little gadget, and I could even argue that it has reduced my quality of life.
We need to become more consciously aware of how we communicate and why we are communicating. Isn't this networked world supposed to be about connecting people in never-before-thought-possible ways to do never-before-thought-possible things? Isn't communications technology supposed to open the door to new opportunities?
Much is being made of Social Networking sites like Ryze, Linked In, and Friendster. Social Software like this is a step in the right direction, but in my opinion it still isn't any easier than the slow and sometimes painful process of working the room at a party. And you're supposed to get introduced before you can talk to someone? Forget it. Seems like more of a barrier to communication that a facilitator.
I've been working for a few years on my own Social Software -- Infobeing.net. The site is fully-functional and I believe it solves the problem of Social Networking in large-scale communities. We start by asking the user what they want to do and about what. Once that information has been captured, the user begins receiving relevant messages from other users and from blogs, news sites, and discussion forums around the web. So on the flip side, when you have something to say to the world (searching for a job, organizing an event, publishing news, whatever), its a little like shouting from a stage into a room of people...with the knowledge that all the right people, and only the right people, will hear you. The cool thing is the same communications model effectively routes messages about anything.
We only have about 1,000 users right now. We've yet to do much advertising because we've yet to figure out a revenue model. At this time I'm approaching other web communities to see if they'd like to use our service as an underlying message-routing / social networking layer to what they are already doing. It isn't about the money, but I'm finding it very difficult to make this thing work without any revenue...and I'm determined to change that.
If Infobeing.net isn't the answer, I sincerely hope somebody figures out a way to use all this expensive and sophisticated technology to communicate more wisely.