Social networks in meatspace

I just had a wacky idea.

We know what social network software is, right.

Now suppose we turned a conference into a social network.

Ask everyone who’s coming to sign up with LinkedIn or Friendster, or maybe Ted Leonsis’s new system.

Then we ask people to check off people they’d like to talk with at the conference, and make a brief note about what they want to talk about, and whether or not it must be private, and how long it will take, and if it can be part of a group discussion.

The person you want to meet with can say yes or no or no response.

Then, a week before the conference, we publish a schedule, with meeting places.

The people who a hundred people want to talk with in public get meeting rooms.

People who no one wants to meet with can sign up for dinners and lunches, or post on their blog about how fucked up the A-List is.

What do you think?

13 responses to this post.

  1. […] Wacky idea: Social networks in meatspace.  […]


  2. weird, but it just might work.

    sometimes the people who you want to talk to at a conference are not the people who you plan on have being there at all.

    & you need to figure out some way to incorporate the yenta role, “you should really talk to so and so”, that’s a valuable piece missing from your description.


  3. Your idea flys with me. Recently read somewhere about an outfit in Europe called who commercially offer a fully integrated social network service. Never heard of them before but the concept makes alot of sense.


  4. We could do this in an afternoon session creating a mashup with our up and coming social network web service – the PeopleAggregator.

    Its also exactly what I suggested to Acteva when I was working for them. Its in some report in the CEO’s filing cabinet.

    By Jove – he’s got it!

    There is also a business model in here – letting in commercialism and hucksterism – for a price. Thsi is where the AttentionTrust and reputations come in. The higher the rating, the more expensive the capitalists have to pay – to get your attention.

    So based upon keywords, such as “meeting on Email clients” – bids would be submitted saying “we’ll pay you $250 to listen to our pitch on our new email client”.


  5. Posted by Robert Scoble on April 24, 2006 at 12:50 am

    Google did that at Zeitgeist. It didn’t lead to much interesting.

    We did that at the CNET Live conference back in the 1990s. Most people didn’t join, and even the ones who did, didn’t really use it.

    I hate social networking systems like LinkedIn, Orkut, etc.

    I don’t reply to messages sent to me via those anymore. They simply are 90% noise and the good ones know that my blog has my email address and phone number on it anyway.


  6. Hmm. I think it could work. 😉


  7. Ive got what I think is a better idea Dave, but it may turn out to be some stupid shit :). We should make a social networking site for the open source community. Theres alot of good projects out there that would benefit from a site that lets the write people find them. Maybe the code itself could also be a “user” at the site.


  8. It sounds like an intriguing idea, but only viable if you make everyone use it. That’s why Scoble’s experience didn’t work out. That would basically mean your own social networking software, because nobody’s gonna sign up to Myspace or Meetup just for this one thing. If you do this, I’ll keep an eye on it for sure.


  9. i think it’s a very good idea … but i would open it up to anyone, not just those attending the confreence. then i would contrive a way with metadata feeds such that it doesn’t matter what webservice the people were subscribed to. Now, that’s a wacky idea, huh? … i mean we don’t need no stinking domain names getting in the way of our social networks, eh? Me thinks that basically all you need is to specify a tag for the conference and have a list of social network webservices that are being polled.


  10. Posted by Dave Anderson on April 24, 2006 at 9:12 am


    Turn the social network in to a conference environment.

    I like your idea but to really be effective we need live online interaction for conference connections. There is no substute for direct human contact but many of us who would like to be involved I going to these things are either are too busy or just can’t make it. We need to be moving more towards live interactive social networking tools that allow us to interact effectively virtually and globally. MySpace, PeopleAggregator, and TheFaceBook are examples of how fast static interaction is catching on. WOW, EverQuest and CounterStrike make it easy for us to play online together. Cell phones, Blackberrys and PDA’s are electronically connecting us even more. Now, we just need to take the next step with other activies like conferences where we can virtually interactively synergize our ideas, dreams and realities together online.

    Ok, enough said, I think I will go take a walk in the woods to hear the birds sing, smell the flowers and feel the warm spring breeze.


  11. There needs to be an open source conferecing system or collection of systems that does this stuff so that every conference organiser doesn’t feel they need to re-invent the wheel and build it themselves.

    Perhaps a pre-configured Drupal with a couple of special purpose modules?


  12. Being able to have an understanding of what knowledge and experience is present at an event of this type can only benefit everyone. Comming up with ways of using that information to make the conference more efficient would be a challenge but very interesting. Two very enthusiastic thums up.


  13. The idea of social networking in meatspace / the real world seems to be a continuing challenge both socially and professionally. To David Anderson’s point, there is no substitute for connecting in the real world. Many conference attendees are primarily there to network and the odds of their finding the right people are rather low. My company has an open social network with a mobile component that makes it easy for people to connect in the real world. People can match on structured data elements (think MySpace or profile) as well as through group affiliations. Anyone can create a group and join a group. People can also employ agents that will actively scan around you at a conference, on the street, on an airplane, or basically anywhere and make personal connections between people. I’d be curious what this audience thinks of the applicability of what Enpresence (http”// has given this thread of conversation.


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