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Andrew Duensing
Andrew Duensing

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Introducing Slow Social

I’d like to introduce you to Slow Social.

Slow Social is my idea of what I wish social networks were, and what I think they can be. It is simple, straightforward, and sets out to accomplish one thing and do it well. Slow Social functions similar to a personal blog or email list, except with private by default settings and metering to ensure that you don’t have to check it more than once or twice a week to be fully up to date. But let me back up a bit first.

I love social networks, but they’ve pretty consistently let me down. For the past 5 years, the readily available social networks have really failed to adapt, provide, and facilitate meaningful interactions between me and my peers. There are bright spots certainly, but the social apps themselves seem more interested in maximizing easy to quantify metrics like interaction counts, time spent on the app, advertising dollars earned, and other revenue driving numbers rather than actually providing users with tools and guardrails to build and sustain meaningful relationships. I can’t really blame them for this because, after all, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are all products owned by publicly traded companies who have a legally binding responsibility to maximize financial return on investment to their shareholders. Nevertheless, I’m grieved by the toll its taken on our society, as well as the lost opportunities we’ve had to leverage the incredible technology and resources we have at our disposal to create something better than what we have.

But what does a “better” social network look like? I am by no means the first person to ask that question, and there is no shortage of thoughts on the matter. Undoubtedly the answer is subjective, but I’ve decided to take a crack at it, both ideologically and in terms of engineering.

From my perspective, the principle problem with our existing social networks is that they abuse human psychology rather than try to mitigate it. Humans, by and large, lack impulse control when considering an action where there is no immediate or apparent repercussions. For example, many of us continually trade our next 30 seconds for the potential of mild amusement, but often fail to account for the hits we take to our self esteem or how much “just 30 more seconds” can turn into. My solution? Make an app that forces you to post and read less often, not more.

I’m going to get ahead of things by saying yes, I know, this drastically reduces potential user base. But, if you’ve ever felt like you can’t share anything real because you’re post is going to be sandwiched between memes, can’t stay up to date with your friends without betting distracted or discouraged, can’t stay up to date because there’s just too much content flowing through your feed, or don’t ever want to share anything because you're afraid of what your future friends might think when scrolling back through your feed, then a slower social network might be for you.

That all being said, Slow Social is my take on a social network. With my limited time and resources, I’ve done my best to make it something that gives you space to write and share with your friends what you’ve been doing, as well as see what your friends are up to. The main catch, as you’ve might’ve guessed, is that you can only post at most once every 6 days (so you can post weekly with a grace period). The limited cadence benefits the writer by removing the pressure to give constant, live updates and gives more space for longer form content to be written and thought over. On the other hand, the limited cadence benefits the reader by removing the pressure to always be checking in. Once a week and you’re good.

Aside from the limited cadence, there are other facets of Slow Social that are less central but still support fostering relationships. Some examples are that posts are never visible publicly (but they can be sent as an email easily), newly added friends can only see your latest post and all future posts (they don’t see your entire history), and users are encouraged to write at least 100 words before posting (although it’s not enforced, you just have to dismiss a modal). And lastly, if Slow Social has any measure of success my main goal is to prioritize something sustainable that serves users, not to maximize profit.

If I’ve caught your interest, please check out Slow Social and let me know what you think. You can email me at team@slowsocial.us.

Top comments (8)

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ejheil profile image
Ed Heil

OK, I just joined. I hope to get friends to join. I got two friends to join. I can make a post right now... which those two friends will see.... but if more friends join in the intervening time between now and a week, I don't get to talk to them. So I don't want to post.

Basically there is a big disincentive to post if you are hoping someone else will join within the next week.

I feel like this is maybe a problem. At least if you want people to post at all.

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duensing profile image
Andrew Duensing

Hey Ed,

Actually when you add a friend they get your most recent post. I haven't found a good way to communicate this in the app yet, but that's the functionality. Also, at any point you can share a post with any friends regardless of when you've made it.

Thanks for trying the app out, I really appreciate it!

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ejheil profile image
Ed Heil

Oh that makes much more sense. Thanks!

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edgarverona profile image
EdgarVerona

Ah! I just heard about this - I actually have been thinking the along the same lines, and building a prototype in my spare time. I'm glad to see that this is a thought growing in people's minds. I think it's great, keep it up!

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phase_seven profile image
Ratul Roy

There's a huge barrier on your platform. If I can't convince my friends to join I have nothing to do for a whole week

Maybe allow public posts to remedy this?

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duensing profile image
Andrew Duensing

Hey Ratul! You actually can email your posts as part of the publishing flow, which I hope mitigates some of the challenges you've highlighted.

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spongechameleon profile image
spongechameleon

Andrew, love the idea, thank you for posting. I've been thinking about this same problem. I think social media platforms do a great job of allowing us to easily share context with others, but I agree that they aren't appropriate for more meaningful interactions.

However, I think we already have a good solution for more meaningful interactions: SMS texting and calling. Anecdata, but when I want to discuss relationship problems with friends, it's always by text message or phone call.

The problem with pure SMS texting and phone calls is that I lose all of that access to context that I would otherwise get on a platform. And that context is still important because it makes it much easier to reach out to people in the first place.

I'm wondering if there's a way we can still use SMS and phone calls as the medium of meaningful communication while also providing a mechanism to share context.

Honestly, I think plain old blogs might work well. Just like slow social, one post per week maximum. But why onboard people onto yet another platform when we've already solved the communication layer with texting and calling? Let's just use blogs to solve the context layer.

Authenticate users with their phone number. Allow users to subscribe to posts made by other phone numbers. One post per week max. Once a week, send a text alert to every phone number that is subscribed to others. The alert text should include a link to feed along with a list of the people who have posted in the past week.

Read posts on your feed and include buttons to text or call the poster. I think this might strike a nice balance of focusing on direct, personal interactions (no groups, no public messages!) but also allow a way to share context.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on something like this. Either way, really love the idea of Slow Social and I'll certainly be giving it a try. Thanks again for the post, cheers :)

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ejheil profile image
Ed Heil

So I posted a day or so ago, and I notice that the "write" function is still available to me. What will happen if I try to post again? Will it begin the post and leave it queued for five more days till I can post it or what?

I don't know if I should experiment or not because I dont' want to lock myself out longer with a "test post" type thing

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