In May 2014, I made a blog-post that details the conceptual design (how things work) when it comes to my latest startup. Since then I have received a steady stream of questions and some feedback related to the work I've been doing.
Now, most of the feedback that I have received is positive, specially when I paint the vision of the (potential) features that can be introduced in a fitness/outdoors related interest based social network.
But I have also received some criticism. The criticism usually comes in the form that this area is overdone. Specially with the emergence of other interest based social networks like fitocracy, pinterest, yaamo and mighty bells e.t.c. Overall, It begets the question, is there really a need for another interest based social network?
First of all, let me state that I find this criticism really valuable. In the words of Vinod Khosla, the most important thing is a reality where "someone disagrees with your point of view". I completely agree with this disagreement statement and I live by these words. I live by these words as this 'reality' forces you to challenge your own assumptions. There are two important reasons for having your assumptions challenged.
1. It creates synergy.
2. It helps shed light on the narrative from a point of view that you might have missed. And doing this could save you time and effort in the long run.
So paying attention to criticism is absolutely necessary for the survivability and success of your initiative.
That being said and to get back to the topic at hand. I'm creating TriboApp for a couple of simple reasons. These are questions or rather hypotheses in my mind. I have come to these hypotheses after observing the social media scene and also society at large. So in essence, what I am trying to do is test my different hypotheses. I believe that helping test these hypotheses is important, as getting the answers to some of these questions could help society at large. There is also the obvious and hugely important benefit of connecting individuals and bringing joy in their lives.
Now, these hypothesis that I have been referring to can be categorized into two groups:
1. Tribes vs Systems - Is that a good model?
I suspect that in most respects the potential for harnessing the collective capability of tribes or smaller teams is overlooked. I don't want to get into the actual cause, as this is just a hypothesis in my mind. Meaning large monolithic systems vs tribes. Although, that would be a very good thought experiment. But if this is true, then this is a major design problem. You'd have to go deeper and look at this problem from a biological (evolutionary), anthropological and societal point of view (psychology, group dynamics). Overcoming this design problem could mean a new way of conducting our lives and solving problems that confounds societies and entire civilizations. Also, overcoming this design problem would result in less waste. Waste that currently exists in the form of human capital that is not utilized, under utilized or utilized for the wrong endeavours as there is a skill mismatch. (task to individual/teams).
2. The social paradox
a. Social networks should be an enabler for connecting people. Not just people who you know, or friends of a friend or someone who you may benefit from (new job, new contract, new project e.t.c).
b. If an individual feels lonely then there should be a social network out there that helps solve that problem!
The emergence and popularity of 'interest based social networks' may be the driving force that gives credence to the two points that I have raised above. Or in other words, these are the problems that are driving growth in this space and will continue doing so.
Overall, I suspect that the way social networking has been done all this time could merely be the tip of the iceberg. There my be a huge untapped market for connecting people. Connecting people based on their interests seems like a logical start. And in a future state this reorganization of groups could fundamentally alter the way we conduct our lives, the nature of work and how society tackles problems big and small.
As with any project, there are many problems that need to be solved before we can get to a future state. Trust relationships, identities and reputation scores (more in the form of tribal knowledge) come at the top of the list.
Personally, I chose to launch a fitness/outdoor focused interest based social network because it has always been an area of passion for me. There are four things that I have done consistently throughout my life and that would be:
As a keen observer, I have always thought about how these interactions can be optimized. That is why I have decided to launch this venture. I chose to go with a fitness/health/outdoors focused social network, because I believe that this market is underserved. And like I've mentioned on my blog before, no one is focusing on 'group-cohesiveness' and 'group-dynamics'.
Can meetup.com or any other interest based social network guarantee that a significant majority of the members within each group get along with each other?
I figured I would take some time to shed a bit more light upon what I'm doing and more importantly why I'm doing it. As always, it will be great to get some feedback as I continue along this path of entrepreneurship. Thank you for reading and a big thanks to everyone who has provided support and feedback to date.
P.s: Please don't forget to signup for the Alpha release, if you haven't done so already. Signup link has been provided below.
The idea of tribes, specifically tribes that exist for the purpose of performing some kind of an activity. This idea, has been kicking around in my head for quite a while now.
What I'm really talking about are groups. And I don't think groups are being done right, in a social-networking context.
I've yet to find a social network out there that is focusing on 'group dynamics'. Or to be more precise, on the cohesiveness of the group. Now, if you bring the element of 'activity' into the fold, then things start getting a little bit more interesting. Because, quite simply:
I'm thinking that this could be a pretty big problem.
So between collecting cheques from the Government, applying for jobs, reading books and well other things. I finally decided that I am going to work on this project. Thus:
Tribeto.me was born in a moment of inspiration. (pending name change)
I want to build a platform that will allow individuals to connect with other individuals that they will be comfortable in associating with.
Where the group cohesiveness is always maintained and complimented by each one it's members.
Please signup for Alpha launch:
I am always very open and receptive to any feedback and criticism regarding any one of the projects that I embark upon. So, if you are reading this and you think that this is a good idea or it's a terrible idea or something in between, then I'd love to get your feedback. Feel free to drop me a line or simply leave a comment below.
Thank you kindly for your interest!
I leave you with a snapshot from the logo:
Creation of a subset within a Social Network with a specific focus on v 2.0 of the 'Dunbar’s limit' that is dynamic in nature and continually evolves
Amongst other things, I've also been thinking about the Dunbars limit. I think this area, or rather ‘the logic encapsulated within this theory’ needs further research. So, that the main tenet being proposed can be broken down analytically, reconstructed and reapplied to a wide and varied dataset. With the eventual goal of having these newly defined concepts, for them to be reapplied in new and unique ways. I am thinking ‘influence’ (1:1 ratio) and how that can be monetized at the very least.
Now, it seems to me that, some subset of the 150 people that we can have stable relationships with, that this subset and the subset within this subset, that they keep evolving on an ongoing basis. If that even makes sense. Maybe the second visual below will make some sense.
What I mean by evolution in this respect, is that the individuals within some (if not all) of these subset, that they keep changing and are constantly being replaced by other individuals on an ongoing basis. That there are different gradients within each of these categories.
It true, I would suspect that this can be attributed to the new and emerging forms of communication. Whether it be social media, new ways of getting work/projects done etc.
So if we can visualize what I'm actually saying right now, then what I’d do is to look at the total number of people that an individual could have some kind of association with.
Since I'm not an expert in this field, what I've done is to simply come up with some simple categorizations. For simplicity’s sake, let’s go with the frequency of communications between an individual, let’s call this individual Jane and the group that Jane would interact with.
Here is how I would visualize these very interactions. Obviously these numbers are made up.
Hence, this (above) could be considered as a very basic model and framework for depicting a logical breakdown of Jane’s association with others, in her network. The percentages would be governed by the recency and frequency of the various interactions.
But, what if this framework could then be broken down into different layers. A sample visualization has been provided below with my very limited photoshop skills at play.
Now these layers would contain data relating to the frequency and recency of interactions with each and every individual that Jane would interact with. We don’t care if this interaction is in the offline world (in-person, phone e.t.c) or the digital world. As long as it can be measured, it can then be applied within the constructs of the system being discussed.
Now you may ask, what's the benefit of such a model? Well, for starters, such a model would allow the ability to calculate, with some level of precision, the ‘influence’ individuals have over one another.
Aggregating the sum total, of this influence, in it's different forms, may also allow us to have a better gauge over an individual's influence over a group or groups.
But, in a Donald's Rumsfeldian way, one would have to be mindful of the fact that we can't measure what we can't measure. As in, offline communications that cannot be measured, but may have powerful influence, relating to one individual over another.
Overall, it begets the question why would you want to do something like that? As in, measure influence that individuals would have over one another in their own group settings.
To go back to the very instance, where I came up with the thought of connecting the different gradients (hypothetical) and layers (hypothetical) within the Dunbar’s limit and connecting them with the spheres of influence (also hypothetical). I think that's where the money is.
We have now come to a point where we can measure the influence an individual can exhibit over their network (Linkedin, Klout e.t.c). I think the time has come, to be able to measure these 1:1 interactions and to then be able to aggregate and measure them holistically.
I can think of a lot of different ways this mechanism for measuring influence can actually be monetized. Some examples that I can think of right now:
I can think of many other ideas along these categories. But the time has come to call it a day and hit the gym. Overall, this idea needs more time, research and thinking. As frequency and recency alone are not a good indicator of measuring influence.
By the way, I've been working on a project in this area that I have just elaborated upon. Something that could potentially morph into a subset of this very idea. A very tiny subset.
Details to follow.