Saturday night I hung out at BarCamp, took full advantage of the free beer (courtesy of Technorati), and had some interesting conversations.
One was with Eris Stassi who was saying that in the “Women in Tech” session they came up with an idea for an open source social software for the real world (scroll to the bottom). The gist of it is that you’d have a profile on your mobile device and if there’s someone in the area that matches your interests, you’ll know they’re in the area. And presumably it will be easier for you to start a conversation. Great for conferences, network events, and singles bars.
It reminds me of a device I heard about a couple years ago that would buzz if you pass someone who also had the device. I can’t remember all the details, nor if you had to set up a profile. I think you do. But in my vain attempt to find it again, I stumbled across Jambo. You can load it onto a wi-fi device, but it seems you have to be part of an organization or existing social network before you can use it. And they do not require you to fill out a profile for the Jambo system.
That’s okay, but just because I’m randomly connected to someone, for example fellow alum, doesn’t mean that I want an “introduction” to be based on that tenuous relationship alone. The year I graduated from Rutgers there were 35,000 students there. I didn’t know all of them, and, if the Jambo system shows how you’re connected to someone, you wind up with useless recommendations because the person who’s connecting you doesn’t necessarily have a real relationship with you. It’s a similar problem that Russ Beattie says caused him to opt-out of Linked In.
If you make a profile mandatory, build upon existing online social networks and have it open source so that it could evolve to work with any device (theoretically), it could change the way we interact online and off.