As they say “the public internet is broken” with toxic social networks etc, the so-called private internet – ie. closed private groups – has been on the rise.
But I feel like the private internet is also on the verge of breaking – at least based on my personal experience.
First is the volume problem. We’re all using 8 different messaging apps that each have 12 different group chats with hundreds of members in them. The number of messages flying around are simply staggering. Problem is, there’s no easy way to see only the messages that are important for me. Important and valuable information is buried, mixed with all the other messages, many of them being meaningless to me. So you either read everything or miss out on important information.
Second is the utility problem, especially in terms of archiving and extracting the group’s knowledge. Group chats work pretty well when the # of participants are capped to a manageable level (let’s say, 6-7 members). But once these chat rooms become some sort of community with hundreds+ members, the utility drops very quickly. That’s very ironic, because it means the more successful a community becomes, the less its utility becomes. Big communities suffer from members asking the same questions over and over again, or new members not knowing what’s been discussed before and bringing up the same points or questions all over again.
This is related to the third problem which is the “evergreen vs transient” problem – chat rooms, by design, drive people to the transient, “in the moment” chatters, while not good at creating and surfacing evergreen threads that have stood the test of time. Many communities can create a very good Wiki using their members’ collective knowledge, but such Wiki is not easy to build using the current batch of messaging apps.
All these problems arise from the fact that most of these private social tools are basically messaging apps, not necessarily designed for the communities use case. Communities still adopt to use these tools mostly for the convenience factor (most people having these apps already installed on their phones means surefire delivery of messages.)
Overall, the movement towards the private internet seems inevitable — Now that the AI/LLM are here to stay, how can AI address the problems mentioned above and make our private internet experience 10x better?