Andrew Keen pans the current crop of social discovery apps, like Highlight, Glancee, Banjo, and Sonar:
Andrew Keen, Messing With Fate via The Atlantic
Applying algorithms to the personal data on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, these apps try to introduce us to nearby people whom we might like to meet—because we listed the same career on LinkedIn, say, or because we “liked” the same bands on Facebook. That’s why my friend’s phone was buzzing: it wanted to introduce her to strangers in the vicinity of the Indian restaurant who, like her, were on Highlight. And it’s why, when I arrived at the Austin airport the next day, I was bombarded with notifications that potential “friends” were nearby: tens of thousands of techno-hipsters had just descended, and every one of them seemed to have downloaded one of the social-discovery apps that pundits were predicting would go mainstream at this year’s South by Southwest.
My own experience at the festival, however, was decidedly short on serendipity. Everywhere I went, my new apps tried to connect me to people I didn’t want to see—business partners from failed ventures, Web developers I’d fired, entrepreneurs who were selling things I didn’t need, the inevitable ex-girlfriend. Worse, the people I wanted to bump into never popped up on my phone. In the end, most people who came to Austin seemed to agree with my friend: these apps are, in their first-generation form, annoying. (Forget Big Brother; imagine a mutual-surveillance network of little brothers.) Their incessant matchmaking drains both patience and batteries.
I agree. I found Highlight useless and annoying, but I think they fail for the obvious reason: they are trying too hard. I mean, what’s the pitch for an social discovery app that doesn’t serve up lots of possible pals?
Me, I need to turn the dial down. I don’t buy the logic that there are 25 people within 1000 yards of where I am standing at any minute — even at SxSW — that are potentially pals or soulmates. I need a social discovery app that isn’t so undiscerning. I’d rather only one or two introductions per month that are dead on, even if I don’t miss a dozen could-have-beens.
PS Looking for a good Twitter analysis tool, to find more good sources of high quality insight. Let me know if you know one at @stoweboyd.
Source: The Atlantic