I am not great at meeting people especially at conferences. However, the biggest reason to attend a conference is to meet people. (If you think you are paying $1500 to learn about how Rails routes work then its time to rethink your life.) iPhones may not be ubiquitous yet, but they are popular enough that some social networks have started targeting them specifically. When bluetooth was born free thinkers imagined a meetup system that everyone on the network would use. Just set your phone to ‘meet me’ and you would find yourself swamped with babes in no time. 8 years later the network never emerged. The prospect of opening yourself up to anyone on the street was a little much to bear even by the dandiest socialite. Like so many other things in life – generic development platforms, my education, etc – the idea lacked context. Context sells.
Back to the iPhone. The phone has wifi. There is a sweet SDL available. Here goes. Build a rich ‘intro to the virtual me’ application. It can be as simple as I am Justin. I am a Ruby programmer. I would love to meet other Ruby programmers. Make it easy to store a number of profiles then when you attend a conference or social event set the profile most relevant to that setting public. Others in the wifi grid would see this along with the profiles of everyone else participating. Press the friend invite the other person gets a friend request – a virtual business card exchange. Add scheduling into the application so that ad-hoc meetups can be arranged. Throw in Twitter and blog integration so that you can follow what your new friends are saying and you have a powerful social exchange. The network can be formed anew for each event you attend and archived online to a social service. For the contacts you hit it off with you can become friends on Facebook, follow each other on Twitter, or add each other’s blogs to your aggregator. Nerdy engineers rejoice. Now even the introduction can be virtual. No more of this messy, inefficient offline human interaction.