Is there any benefit in creating a network for which the main purpose is connecting small groups to other small groups? One of the original small groups we join by default is our own family and families usually connect with other families, so maybe there is something in the idea of a small group network. The family is the very first group we join and the one that is likely to have the deepest, long lasting impact throughout our lives. We establish good or bad habits from the relationships we have in our family group and a good proportion of what we learn follows us around in later life.
Families meet up with other families, share knowledge, help each other, and compare themselves against other families. Being part of a family group gives you a different identity to your individual one. It might lead to new opportunities or it might be a barrier to them, depending on the biases and reputation in play.
Technology is mostly designed for individuals
When you sign up to most applications you have a single login name, a single set of preferences, a single history of data – all built around the idea that there is one person creating an account. You can join a group but you can’t join as a group in a way that gives you any advantages over an individual. I can create a username of recknsense_family but everything after that goes back to, and is based on, a single person. The easiest way to share an account (in most cases) is to share your password with the group but this does not take into account there are several individuals within. We are starting to see a recognition of families or households in the profiles available on streaming services – one account can have many profiles. In the case of streaming video, going the next step into a group to group scenario i.e. connect one family with another, doesn’t make an immediate sense other than possibly extended families sending video recommendations to each other. There may be other scenarios where groups can find much more purpose and value in the connection to other groups.
What if there was a network designed specifically for small groups to find and connect with other small groups?
A network designed specifically for small groups like families or close friends may prove useful. Being part of a group can offer individuals a form of protection and belonging. Group members can have the advantages of the group without putting all their personal preferences and details on display. Just like any close group whether friend, family, or professional, groups can also bring reputation and recognition. Without much effort, the individual can take the advantages from being associated with the group but they are also likely to retain a vested interested in helping it succeed. However, today technology can be regarded as ‘individualist’ – designed to connect one person to another person or to connect one person to a group but not often one group to another group. If technology was to recognize a person and a group in different ways, we may see different, possibly more positive behavior among individuals as a result.
Some features of a group to group network could include:
- A group searching for groups that ‘look’ like them in that they have a similar size, background and interests.
- A group searching for groups that want the same things as them or have advice for them.
- A group wanting to communicate easily with another group without individual data being exchanged and without the burden on every individual to interact.
There could be other use cases, but it seems like an idea worth exploring further as we consider how to bring positive improvements in the technology we build. Changes have been occurring in human behavior that could be as a consequence of the individualism we see underpinned by the technology we use. Read my post on The Difference between Networks and Communities which refers to the ‘liquid society’ as defined by Zygmunt Bauman. Additionally, as we think about the possibility of less fixed social network identities and consider ‘situation’ based networks instead, there could be very specific situations where the interaction is better served as a group than as a single individual e.g. we’re moving to a new city and our group/family wants to find another group’s experience first hand. Read about the idea of ‘Situation Networking’ in another recent post.