Speeksy: Social Discovery Through Facebook

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Tom Murphy has worked as a producer and cameraman specialising in current affairs and documentaries, filming in many different environments, hostile and otherwise, throughout the world. @tom_murphy

Social discovery is an online space that has been emerging over the last couple of years. It is a throwback to some of the original ideas that the first social networks were built around. Friendster was about meeting new people through mutual friendships. Likewise, MySpace was a very social way of discovering new music.

In contrast, Facebook, with its multiple levels of privacy settings is very much about keeping in touch with people you already know. Social discovery is, in essence, a network that enables you to meet people.

For the moment, with Facebook’s star still in the ascendency, launching a competing social network is a task set aside for the brave and the foolhardy. A smarter way to address the need people have for meeting new people would be to integrate a social discovery application with the Facebook platform.

This is what Barry Cassidy has done with his company Speeksy — a social discovery platform that uses Facebook information to create connections through shared interests and mutual friends.

Barry says that, “We looked at how people met new people in the real world. What was it that makes a connection between you and someone new that you are meeting? Essentially, mutual friends is a big thing and so is common interests.

"The Facebook API is pretty easy to engage with but for us it was more about thinking through the features that we could use. What features in the Facebook Open Graph could we leverage to make it easier for people to meet new people?"

Speeksy has just one single sign-on process. Information needed to create an account is pulled from Facebook's Open Graph. A match is then made between you and people who share your interests and are connected to you through mutual friendships.

Connections are created based on things that you have already indicated that you liked on Facebook such as movies, TV shows, bands, books and so forth. Barry says, "It is a seamless entry from Facebook into our product where you don’t have to create a profile of fill in a questionnaire or personality test.

"We are trying to create a social experience where you can meet new people in a very natural way. We are creating an enjoyable social experience that people will want to go to and engage with regardless of whether they meet new people or not.

"When you log into our site we create connections through interests. You can find interests that you already have or you can explore new interests such as running and other things you might do in the real world. You can create music playlists and see what other types of music people are listening to. You can also browse people and see their interest graphs"

Just like in the real world the online world has its share of unsavoury characters. However, Barry has a strategy for dealing with egregious behaviour: "We filter people out on the reputation [they acquire] based on their behaviour and engagement with other people."

Meeting new people (providing they are not nut-jobs) is a necessary component for maintaining our health as we move through life. We are social animals who revel in novelty. New social encounters can sometimes challenge some of our fixed, but maybe false, notions. They can provide new sources of stimulation and through shared interests we can feel a sense of belonging that is essential to our tribal natures.

Most of social media is human nature taking advantage of the technologies of the World Wide Web to broaden one's horizon from the village and the local area to the global. Social discovery and applications like Speeksy offer us a new opportunities for fresh engagement based on shared interests.

Having common ground to begin with makes it all the easier for new relationships to flourish.



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