During one of my “finer” moments of early college, someone asked me and my friend if we had known each other before college (we came from practically the same hometown). My friend said yes, while I, simultaneously said no. I had interpreted the word “known” to mean “BFF,” and my friend had interpreted the word to mean “Facebook friends.” Awkward.
As much as I love Facebook, I think we can all agree that the platform is not an accurate representation of our friend network at a specific point in time. A comment on our last post led me to Hyphos (from the Greek word for “web”), an early-stage platform that promises to improve the way we socialize. Intrigued, I immediately signed up for an invite to the beta. We’re waiting eagerly for that.
In the meanwhile, we were able to snag an interview with Alex Capecelatro, a member of the Hyphos team, to get his and the Hyphos story. Read on to learn about an experience he guarantees you’ll love.
Detech’d: Mac or PC?
D: iPhone or Other?
D: Favorite app?
Phew, he passed level one. Now to get a bit more philosophical:
D: How has technology changed your life?
A: To a certain extent, technology IS my life. Or at least part of my life’s mission. Through technology I’m interested in enabling opportunities, improving connectivity, and making knowledge more readily transferrable.
And of course, we couldn’t resist getting his views on the Facebooks and Twitters of the world.
D: What makes social networking and social media platforms successful?
A: First and foremost you need to be engaging. You need to have a mass market appeal, and you need to be simple to use. Moreso, you need to solve a problem and offer a user experience unlike any other. In fact, UX is probably the most important factor in gaining traction. Let’s take Facebook for example. Is it engaging? Absolutely. How many times have you signed on to check a message only to get sucked into the news feed? Does it have a mass market appeal? Certainly. Whether you’re a college professor in Los Angeles or a 13 year old girl in New York, there’s something for everyone. It’s simple to use, easy to navigate, and offers the only place on the Internet to find most of your friends and stay connected. That said, Facebook isn’t perfect. To be successful, you need to understand human nature and the underlying psychology of how we operate. By understanding social trends and the direction we’re going, you can set up a platform that engages and grows.
D: So are these social platforms virtual replicas of our real world or are they two completely different beasts?
A: There’s a mix. Traditionally sites like Reddit do very well because they flood us with information. Twitter is the same way. We’ve been fooled into thinking this is communication, but it’s really data acquisition. Even Facebook is more a stalking mechanism than true social engagement. If we examine the real world, on the other hand, things are quite different. Our friendships form from a number of factors, including proximity, common interests, and personality agreement. Our conversations are sporadic, often taking tangents in a direction you could never have predicted. Our social circles fluctuate over time, as do our interests. In addition, social influence largely affects our decision process. For example, Robert Cialdini talks of the six “weapons on influence”, including “reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.” It is uncommon to find a web based platform taking these into consideration, but that is exactly what we’re doing with Hyphos. By better mirroring the real world, we’re presenting a greater platform for discovery.
What a perfect segue.
D: Tell us about Hyphos
A: Hyphos came about recently as I became intrigued with creating a better way to socialize. There are a number of ways people would like to connect, but a platform doesn’t yet exist. The primary reason is that most social networks are inclusive, enabling socializing between the people you know. I’m interested in a more transparent interaction for discovery of new ideas, new people, and new content. We’re currently finessing the UI and design, setting up servers, and plan to invite the first wave of beta testers soon. We’ll roll out an official launch shortly after, with some incredible top secret activities in the mix.
Hyphos is redefining social interactions. But there’s nothing foreign or futuristic about the image on their website. In fact, it captures an activity that all of us who were once kids know and understand all too well.
D: So what’s with the pillow fight?
A: The pillow fight represents everything we’re about. Coming together and discovering new interests, new people, and new activities all while having a blast!
Of course, there are tons of social media and networking sites out there today. For us, the most fun way to measure the success of these sites is to examine how deeply entrenched they are in our everyday behaviors…and conversation. Google it. Facebook me. The Twittosphere.
D: What part of speech is Hyphos?
A: One of the joys in creating a web presence is seeing how our community engages with the site. While we have some ideas in terms of a verb/adjective/noun parlance, we’re going to let the community create their own.
D: There are two types of people on Twitter…
A: …Those who produce and those who consume. That’s the problem. Both Facebook and Twitter are all about feeding data and consuming data. While that’s important, good communication and social engagement require more. Real dialogue, feedback, and conversation surrounding a topic transcends the data into communication, and that’s what we’re doing with Hyphos.
If what you’ve seen already wasn’t enough to get you excited beyond belief, the following is bound to pique your curiosity: Though we couldn’t get the launch date out of them, we did learn that a date has been chosen, and the launch is going to be “huge.”
For our early adopter readers out there, sign up for the beta and start inviting your friends. The more people you invite, the sooner you get access.
Here at Detech’d we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more. We simply can’t wait. After all, there’s nothing we love more than being able to build our vocabulary. Catch you on the inter-Hyphos!