Note: While this site is, by definition, about things in real life, I occasionally post ideas for online experiences. Here’s one of those. It’s an idea for what I call a limited social network.
Unless I specify otherwise, assume that the social networks I propose here work like Twitter or Facebook, with the ability to read things in a feed and the ability to post things.
The Emoticon-Only Social Network
In this network you can’t post links, media, or even write text. In fact, the only thing you can do is post emoticons. How might people communicate then? Maybe we can throw in a few selected gifs as well. To participate in this social network you’re going to have to get creative. In fact, that’s sort of the point.
Perhaps the selection of emoticons changes every day or week. This provides that variable reward that people like so much, gives people different toys to play with each week, and allows newbies to join in without feeling they are too far behind to catch up.
You can like posts. You can comment on posts. But all comments are also limited to the emoticon and gifs. There might be a limit on how many you can use in each post. Even the limit might fluctuate week to week as well.
If the selection of emoticons/gifs varies week to week or day to day, we need to make sure they don’t spend too much time looking at a sandbox they can’t play in (i.e., the posts made with the previous emoticon set). We need to help direct them to the current conversation. We could do that by greying out previous comments or otherwise highlighting the new sandbox. On the other hand, we could allow cross-pollination and the new emoticons could be used to continue the posts and comments built by the previous set.
One related idea – we could call this the comments-only social network. It’s sort of a joke but really isn’t all social media, philisophically speaking, comments-only?
The Audio-Only Social Network
You get 5 seconds to record something and share it. There are no transcripts. There is no “live” feature. Your feed is a series of play buttons. There is a setting to let them auto-play the next when the current one is over.
Maybe with the use of deep fake audio, the system makes your voice sound like the original poster’s voice. So that your comments more consistent with the original comment. Maybe you can choose to have all the audio produced in your own voice. Or of your favorite celebrity or dog.
The Karaoke Social Network
This is a niche version of the Audio-Only Social Network. Maybe it’s you singing a lyric and you have to get someone else to sing the next lyric. So the comments are just the lyrics. Perhaps the system auto-tunes the voices so that the comments all go together in a melody, or at least along with a chorus or chord changes.
The Augmented Audio Social Network
Another version of the Audio-Only Social Network. Maybe the system adds bird sounds to the background. Or waterfalls. Or dining room chatter. Or a laugh track.
A Comments Section For Real Life
This is idea is for IRL.
Create an image of a comment section with blank spaces where comments should be. Print it out on paper. Then post comment sections on things in the real world, like posters on bulletin boards, and invite other people to comment on them.
Or, if you are the one making the posters, just make that part of the poster itself.
I’m sure a google search would show this has been done before.