Introduction<. In this article, I want to talk about our Person to Person (P2P) Social mobile application, with which we hope to simplify the exchange of information between people as much as possible. By information we will understand everything that is the result of social interaction: new knowledge, acquired skills, or commodity-money relationships. I will describe the main ideas and partially the interface. Criticism and suggestions for improvement are welcome. So let's go.
What is the easiest way to share information? In the modern world, the exchange of information has become easier than ever thanks to the Internet, in which each person is a node of the global network and, according to Metcalfe’s law, the effectiveness of such a network is great due to the huge number of possible interactions. We can get information from a host, whether it’s Donald Trump with his tweets, a well-known programmer’s website with code samples, or a bunch of photos of a travel blogger. It is much more effective to exchange information with feedback, as in the case of learning a foreign language via Skype, technical forums like StackOverflow, and so on. Even in the money-commodity world, the “company-customer” model has often been transformed into a “client-customer” model (for example, Uber and AirBnB), where Internet interaction is only the first stage, then people contact in the real world. In such a coordinate system, two points are important: the search for a reliable source of information (the subject of commodity relations) on the Internet and the ease of getting in touch with him.
We tried to rethink the above model in order to get the information source as close as possible in the geographical sense, to cover the entire range of possible information exchange, and also to make the first contact between network nodes as simple as possible.
In short, we have developed an application that shows nearby users on a map using GPS, displays their knowledge/skills and offered/requested services or products, and also motivates them to go to a personal contact to discuss all the details on the go and without having to drive somewhere across the whole city.
– GPS on the map?! That is, strangers will see me on the map?!
– Exactly! To make the exchange of information as simple as possible, you need to actually hang a conditional sign with an announcement on yourself and wait for people to read it. If someone is interested in information from such a “signboard”, then you can directly proceed to personal contact. This is simple, since users see on the map only nearby people (no further than 1 kilometer) – that is, they can write and immediately arrange a meeting. The situation is shown in the picture. The blue circle marks your own location. Sometimes (with sufficient density) users of the program can be in the line of sight. Our calculations show that in densely populated cities (which our application is focused on) there are high chances of finding the necessary people in the immediate vicinity. So with 2500 users simultaneously in the application within the Garden Ring of Moscow, the average distance to the user will be about 400 meters, that is, really within walking distance. This is a godsend for urbanists, as it saves people’s personal time and increases the economic connectivity of each individual area.
The realtor will not mind a short discussion about a rented apartment with a potential tenant, the recruiting manager will describe the vacancy in his company, and the programmer will readily answer the student’s question “what programming language to start learning in modern realities.”
The next crucial question is how to present the information in the most simple and digestible way possible on the user’s page, while at the same time allowing users to easily contact. We decided to express everything in text and in the most flexible format, without concentrating on one topic such as a catalog of goods or services. Everyone can briefly describe their needs and interests, which should serve as a trigger for further communication.
From personal information, you need to specify only three parameters: name, occupation and approximate age. Everyone can indicate whether the person is ready for a meeting at a given time or prefers correspondence (“I can meet” or “Messages only”).
We have tried to present all possible information exchange options also with three text fields (Interests, Suggests, Seeks), so that a quick glance at the user’s profile is enough to understand how interesting it is. Users can share some kind of knowledge, or offer some kind of service / product on a paid / free / exchange basis.
So, our initial goal has been achieved, namely, the entire possible range of information is covered, and the transition to social interaction (and, importantly, to interaction in the real world) is as quick and simple as possible. If the user is not ready for personal communication, then you can use the built-in messenger.
You will say that this application is firstly only for extroverts, and secondly for very brave people who are not afraid of surveillance?
-No! I already mentioned the small radius in which users are shown and the minimum of personal information. We do not display or record the location in real time – in fact, the location of users is displayed randomly every few minutes, which eliminates the possibility of surveillance.
There are also mechanisms for hiding oneself from the map, blocking from unwanted users and restrictions on receiving messages only by the list of one’s contacts.
Since we are already showing users on the map, the idea also arose to place events and local businesses: on the slide with the map, the ball symbolizes the planned football in the nearby park, and the bowl of soup, respectively, the restaurant. To create an event, you need to click on the desired place on the map, upload a photo and description of the event, specify the start and end time. Using this functionality, you can easily find additional players, like-minded people for a run or morning exercises in the park, give away unnecessary things when moving, or even gather someone for your impromptu concert.
Business can also use this mechanism with ease. For example, a store may announce a sale or discount, or a restaurant may promote a special business lunch offer. Any P2P Social user passing by can see what’s available right now or even walk around the city looking for interesting deals. As far as I understand, such functionality is quite difficult to implement in Google or Yandex maps. Yes, restaurants are shown there, but it is difficult for them to constantly update information about themselves and about special offers. Here it is a matter of a few seconds.
Naturally, you can join the event (become a participant) or leave it (to notify other participants) if there are other plans.
Conclusion. We hope that such a simple and functional application will become popular and even to some extent change the pattern of social communications, namely, it motivates the transition from the Internet back to personal communication: “make life real again” :=)
Our calculations say that a few hundred users in a large city are enough for the system to start working and be useful. Among the main obstacles is the fear of users to show themselves on the map despite the above security mechanism. However, society is becoming more open, and if people are not afraid to use Uber or Couch Surfing, then the possibility of mutually beneficial exchange of information with strangers on the street is also attractive and useful. We also hope that such promotion of a de facto barter economy will not be a negative factor for developing countries.
Now the application works in Moscow, as well as in a number of other world cities (Manila, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo), where there are high population density and transport problems.
App installation link (Android only): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.p2psocial