Ad Hoc Temporary Social Networks

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Mike Elgan:

'Young job applicants are being turned away because of pictures posted of them drunk and shirtless at high school parties. People are being judged for the opinions, behaviors and associations they no longer have. Personal growth can be invalidated because a snapshot of your entire life, from adolescence to adulthood, is available to all — not just your current self.

In short, the permanence of social interaction has become a problem that needs to be solved. That’s why a newish iOS app called SnapChat (now also available for Android devices) has become popular with young people.

SnapChat requires you to set an expiration — measured in mere seconds — for pictures you send. Choose, say, five seconds and send. The recipient sees the picture and after five seconds it vanishes forever. Screenshot-taking is disabled when the app is running.

SnapChat has a bad reputation as a sexting and sexual harassment app for teenagers. But the concept of a social message with an expiration date has got a bright, mainstream future. Another concept with legs is the ad hoc social network — a network that arises spontaneously, then vanishes when its no longer needed.

LobbyFriend is a social network that exists within the confines of an actual hotel. When you check into your hotel, you can become a member of the social network for that property. You interact with other people who are also guests or employees of the hotel as you might on other social networks. You get push notifications about events in or near the hotel. But when you check out of the hotel, all your interactions are erased (much like the record of which movies you watched) and the push notifications are stopped. LoKast, Karizma, Sonar and Fast Society are examples of ad hoc temporary networks, much like LobbyFriend, but applicable to concerts, conferences and parties." (