I’m looking at a new social network for writers called Protagonize. It’s a place where writers can come, register, add a picture, fill out a profile, type in the same stuff (granted, they’ve streamlined this a bit here), and then you can do the main core activities of the network:
- Submit stories or parts of stories.
- Collaborate on other people’s stories.
- Add friends.
It’s nicely made, has some reasonably interesting features, and if you’re a writer, it’s worth checking out.
I want more. I want lots more. No, don’t come comment on my post and tell me that it’s coming. It’s not your fault, but here’s the thing.
We have the baseline functionality of account, friends, comments, voting, etc. That’s all done. There are hundreds of implementations of it. We get it.
At this point, I want someone to get smart like the ZLoop guys and figure out a centralized social networking profile repository that permits us to have multiple iterations, depending on the network.
For a site about stories and writing, I want MUCH more specialized tools. Maybe a floating ajax thesaurus. Could there be a visual storytelling tool that lets writers branch the story in multiple ways like a choose-your-own-adventure book? I want mark-ups and overlay editing features so that others can come in and give you edits and annotation to your stories.
For a site about music, maybe it would be different tools. Come to think of it, Flickr should buy Aviary and roll Picnik in tighter so that we get specialized tools there, too.
I think professional networks have the most opportunity in this regard. Businesses and professional organizations need tools that go beyond what LinkedIn have offered to date. We’re actually looking into that at CrossTech Partners, researching toolsets and building use cases for how professional networks can evolve.
If You’re Developing a Network
Don’t stop at the basics. Don’t just give me another place to make a profile and add friends. It has to give me much more than that before I care. And I think I’m speaking for the user base in general at this point.
Consider what might really make the software valuable and useful. Consider ways in which your targeted users might want to interact. Specialize instead of generalize. Give us VERY specific tools. What would librarians find interesting? What would educators need to take time away from their typical haunts?
And as for YOU, what do you want in your specialized social network? What can you imagine being a set of tools for growing out your human relationships?
Love your thoughts on some variations on the theme.