Private Conversations the new old Social Experience

For me personally I was attracted to Facebook because it represented a way to stay in touch with many people in a passive way.  I also could re-connect with old friends from High School or University that I otherwise would have not really kept in touch with.  However, a funny thing started happening.  I started finding myself conversing regularly with selective groups of people.  Some were work colleagues, other were close friends and of course family.  To make things even more complicated sometimes there were messages that I would leave on my friends walls that were not intended for work colleagues or even family.  I resorted to old fashion email to start communicating those ideas.  Also when it came to photos I found myself doing the same.  I would post a selected few photos on Facebook and email the rest to my family.  This fragmented experience exists because Facebook does not support the notion of private conversations with selected groups of people.

I think private conversations will become a core feature of our online social experience.  There are multiple smaller online communities already supporting this.  Two examples that come to my mind immediately are “Plum” and the “Fridge“.  Both are great services and worthy of giving a try.  The truth is that if  Facebook, Google, or even Twitter start to support this notion the smaller sites will have to seek out a more differentiated user experience.  For me this could be achieved by making the online conversation more connected and real.  Making conversations real-time by using a mobile app and understanding and delivering user context will create a more intimate conversation.

Updated

Its almost uncanny how this works, but Google just launched a new feature on Orkut, their social network site which is popular in Brazil and India. Its popularity is actually on par or greater then that of Facebook in India.  Any guess what the new feature is?  Yup, Groups.  This provides a way to share photos, messages and other social objects with selected friends.  I also love the tag line: “Your not always the same person. Why should it be different on the web?”  Here’s the promotional video:

Here are some stories that covered this topic in more detail:

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