Semi-Private Networks

The social networks that have made most of the news in the early part of this century are the public ones.

The revolution might not have been televised, but it was on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.

And I’ll admit that those networks can be great for finding the others, spreading the word, or starting a movement.

But I predict that semi-private networks will gradually prove at least competitive with and in many cases more valuable than those that reach effectively everybody.

As we’re seeing, the public square is a noisy and chaotic place — especially when it’s global. Remarkable things happen there, to be sure, but they have to compete for attention amidst the crowd.

A classroom, a meeting hall, or a fraternity house has a different feel, and networks of influence have always flowed to and through these more-or-less-gated communities.

When everybody’s already in on the joke, you can reach the punchline a lot quicker. Tap tap — we wear the ring: that’s a powerful way to open a conversation. A lifetime of culture gets packed into a quick touch of metal on wood.

So yes, you could head down to the public square to create or join a movement. But it might be worth looking for — or building — a network with funny outfits, cherished traditions, and an alumni network.

Those networks don’t often make the news, but their members sure do.