Could Connecting with Strangers Become the Next Big Internet Trend after "Search" of Google and "Social" of Facebook?
I've been working for well over a year on getting my website, www.preacquaint.net ready, and we've quietly opened the doors a little while back.
It occurred to me, some time ago, that technology and the internet could be used to leverage friendships in a new way, perhaps.
And there is buzz about this on the internet as well. For instance, as per David Malmborg of SEO.com, Faceboook's next direction would need to focus on (and I quote) "having an option for 'like- minded' strangers to connect without giving away the farm, personal family info, embarrassing photos of you that your jackass friend put up".
Currently, social networks such as Facebook, are designed to connect you to existing friends, and not so much to introduce you to new ones.
My personal take on all this is that 20 years ago, we realistically couldn't have been connected with people globally - the internet has played a major role in giving us that. Back then, you just couldn't pick up the phone and call someone in India and start and ongoing conversations unless you were willing to pay unthinkable long-distance rates, or patiently wait for snail mail to arrive. Now we can connect very easily.
Then Google has made the web searchable through algorithms.
Facebook has subsequently made it social. Now it is the norm to manage existing relationships online.
I personally see that the only logical place for the trend to lead to is more social discovery, meaning discovering people, businesses and locations; and connecting people through the interest graph. I will go so far as to presume that we will get progressively more at ease with interacting with 'strangers', and I'll even add that it won't be seem creepy either to do so, within reason, of course.
The problem currently is that most of the sites that would introduce you to someone new are dating sites. Craigslist has a 'strictly platonic' personals section, but it is limited in its ability to be configured, and so perhaps not so engaging.
preacquaint.net has the ability to automatically suggest new connections based on criteria set by the user. By configuring the settings based on the user's preferences, the site's algorithms go to work and figure out which users are like-minded.
The site will also aggregate several deal sites, which it already does in our test city, Toronto. This will likely roll out globally as well, as an additional way to engage users. Discovering deals fits, as well, within the meaning of the term "preacquaint", so it does not clash with the overall concept, in my opinion.
As mentioned earlier, it took over a year to get the site developed, all financed so far by me; and my intent is on acquainting many to the people, places and businesses of their city and beyond.
As resources allow, I will strive to innovate in this direction and "push the envelope".
-- Mario Cantin