With this new app, we've served more than 15k page views in two weeks. It's bringing lots of local connections online. (I'm not linking to it until we've had 100k page views.)
Joshua Porter puts it eloquently when he says that online social networks are removing latency from our real world social networks by enabling the intrinsic benefit of reconnecting or making that connection visible to others.
What the big social network sites are doing is similar: they’re creating a place where social standing, not economic standing, is the primary motivation. Or, more to the point, they’re modeling that part of our lives in which we yearn for social standing. As Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison rightfully articulate in Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship:
“What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between “latent ties” (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily “networking” or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network.”
In other words, you’re mostly dealing with people you already know in some way. The motivation is almost always intrinsic.
It's a simple benefit to the individual participants. But, it has the potential for both participant and platform creator - to reap huge rewards. The question Josh is asking, (later in his post) as Facebook begins to share this data with ecommerce companies, is "Who benefits more, is the benefit implicit and is that right?"
Our app is designed to benefit our participants more than us. Ultimately, I believe, that's where the value resides and the rewards belong.