We are currently having a lot of fun with social networks. Thousands, maybe millions, of new photo-sharing apps, social games, and dating apps are submitted every year and users seem to be happy and engaged. But most of them (possibly 99+%) lack staying power. Why is this happening?
Because we are in the earliest stages of building social networks. A handful of big players are working on different verticals: Facebook is friends & family, Twitter is real-time information, LinkedIn is business/work/news, Tumblr & Wordpress are personal expression. I think each of these are solutions in their respective markets. But I think there are other, possibly more important, networks missing from the equation. For example a network for "personal growth" i.e. networking, education, and entrepreneurship which helps guide us through life.
Today, the primary source of our knowledge is derived from our social and educational experiences in schools. For the first 21 years of our lives, we spend 75+% of our time and entrust nearly 100% of our future success in this system. Yet there is no online network to support it.
One way to fill this need would be to build a public star trek "captain's log" users can log their experiences and accomplishments along their path of personal growth. The profile will be like building a real time resume from middle school forward where users post their projects & research for other students, teachers, and employers to see. This is roughly possible today with things like personal blogs but the missing piece is the networking aspect. Specifically making it fast, fun, and simple to meet with people who have similar interests or, even better, a colleague/mentor who can help expedite ones learning process.
Today, we aggressively hack our way through our personal growth curve using pieces of various networks, apps, and good old email to get an intro, ask for help, talk about job opportunities, and so on. The world needs a solution like this to better assist us along our paths of personal growth.