Archive for October, 2010

Mobile Media Midterm Concept- Meet

by Yang Liu on Oct.05, 2010, under Mobile Me(dia)

“Meet” is a Location-Based Service which helps people communicate with strangers and become real-world friends.



First, let’s look at the current SNS sites: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. I call them “Friends” based service. On those site, the most often used way to connect with other people is adding them as your “friends”. The websites want people to engage in this “long-term interaction” with other users. But, how many of you “friends” are your real “friends”. At least for me, not much. And Dunbar agrees with me.

“You can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.”  — Dunbar

The Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. The commonly used number is 150. And the social networking didn’t actually increase this number. In according to an unofficial research from Aol. Only a very limited people in your facebook friends list are you real friends.

Therefore, most of your facebook friends are just strangers or acquaintance. And they are much more than your “friends”.

Also, think about how many strangers you can meet each day, on  subways, on streets and in the restaurants. A lot! And you might meet some of them more than once, which you don’t know. These strangers and acquaintance are all your potential friends or social interaction which can happen.


Then, let’s take a look at current LBS sites, such FourSquare, Gowalla and Yelp. Actually, you don’t have much to do on these sites. You can checkin, write tips/reviews about the places, get badges, set to-dos. And that’s it. The interaction between users is not rich enough. This is also why these LBS are not as sticky as Facebook.

Another problem of these LBS sites is they are location-centered but not people-centered. Users can get information about the loaction like how many people have been here and what do they think about these places and sometimes the reviews are two years ago and the restaurant is not there any more. However, people don’t know where other people are and what they are up to unless they “shout” it out. Eventually, these sites will get people interact more with places but not other people. Plus, they have the same “friends-based” problem with other SNS sites.

What I want to do is an LBS application which encourage people to interact more with other strangers and give them more chances to get to know each other and become real world friends.

What is Meet

First, it is a LBS application. It is born to be a mobile application. The different between Meet and 4SQ and Yelp is Meet is “people-centered”. When people publish their Meet message, they have two choices. One is pinning the message on the current location, like Yelp and 4SQ, but the message have a life span such as 5 mins, 1 hour or “as long as I am here”. During this amount of time, all the other users can see your message. They don’t have to be your “friends” on Meet. They can reply your message and chat with you without making a commitment to become “friends” even if it is a fake friendship. We encourage this kind of “one-shot” interaction on Meet. After the message died, it will be archived and won’t be shown on the real-time map. In this way, people will get the latest information about the place and can always communicate with the people are not far from here.

Another choice is you can take the message with you. It is like a floating bubble on your head, such as in MMORPG games. So that, the message is not only about the location. It is about where you are and what you are thinking. After that, you can “drop” the message wherever you want.

Second, Meet is an SNS application. However, you don’t need to add any one into your “friends list”. And in fact there is no such list in Meet. The way user can keep track of there Meet-relationship is done by Meet itself, automatically. Meet will remember all the people you met and give you an alert if you meet a person say, more than three times a week. So that, you will know you and he/she share a similar schedule or places preference. And next time you meet each other you can properly start a conversation/chat with him/her.

Last but not least, Meet can connect with other SNS account, like FB, 4SQ, TW. That doesn’t mean it will import your friends on FB into Meet, but means you will get alerts when you and your FB friends are in the same place.

Here is a list of the key feature of Meet, for now.

  • Loaction-based, People-centered. The app will keep track of your location.
  • Stranger-based. It will encourage you to chat will strangers.
  • Pinning, carrying and dropping messages in the location where you are at.
  • Keep track of your relationship with strangers.
  • Connect with your other SNS account. Turn more strangers into real friends.

How to create Meet

Eventually, it will be a native app running on the mobile platform. In the midterm, I will create the basic functionality in a web app. Such as location detecting, publishing message, the life span of the messages and the summary of stranger relationship, etc.

Dunbar’s number

Only a Tiny Fraction of Your Facebook Friends Are Real

How Many Facebook Friends Do We Have, For Real?

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