Spraffl: Is Anonymous Local Networking The Way Of The Future?

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sprafflicon   Spraffl: Is Anonymous Local Networking The Way Of The Future?After writing up a news article about Spraffl, I grew very curious about how it worked. The app is described as one that connects people to an “anonymous social experiment”. I chatted up a few of my peers about the peculiar piece of software, but all of the responses I received were fairly similar:

“What’s the point?”

“Why would I want to connect with people who I don’t know?”

“If people don’t know who I am, then why would they want to talk to me?”

Each person I spoke to offered very valid reasons. However, I still see some potential in Spraffl.

Anonymous Social Networking

Spraffl’s in the business of anonymous social networking, and yes, that’s a paradoxical statement. When I introduce myself in a social setting, I typically tell the other person my name and a humorous story that may or may not be true. But if life were like Spraffl, I would leave out the name and tell the story while in the same situation. I suppose you could compare it to small talk on the bus.

When you first open Spraffl, you’ll be shown a map that zooms out from your location, searching for nearby “spraffs” (or posts). If you look at a wide view of the app, you’ll see numbers depicting how many users are in certain regions. As you can tell by the map in the image, things are looking very empty right now for my area. Hopefully that will change.

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Map   Spraffl: Is Anonymous Local Networking The Way Of The Future?

Spraffl can also track you in the event that you are posting false information or bullying someone. If one of your posts is flagged five times, it is taken down. Furthermore, there’s a “three strikes, and you’re out” system for banning users who are abusing the application.

On the technical side, the app is only currently available via iPhone. However, an Android version will be available soon.

Share With People You Don’t Know

Ever wanted to publicly shame someone without them knowing you are behind it? Well, with Spraffl, this dream can come true! Except not, as explained with the above flagging system. But really, the whole focus of the app is connecting people who don’t know each other. In fact, they can do it without ever knowing each other. Every single post is anonymously shared and only geotagged.

Post   Spraffl: Is Anonymous Local Networking The Way Of The Future?

Users can easily share posts and images with people in their area and comment on posts by other Sprafflers in others. These posts and images are shared under one of the following categories:

  • Question
  • Observation
  • News
  • Statement
  • Flirt
  • Review

Users can view the different categories by looking at the appropriate icons on the Spraffl world map. Other users’ icons appear in the color green, and self-posts are blue.

Your Geographic Friend List

Despite the user anonymity features that Spraffl likes to push forward, the more interesting aspect of the app is its geographical focus. As I said before, posts are automatically geotagged wherever you post. This creates a more “public-crier” type of feel to the app, and I can see where this will allow for local news or announcements in the future.

For instance, a person could alert the public that there is an accident on the highway at a certain exit. Maybe there’s a new store opening in town. In a sense, Spraffl helps you make public announcements actually to the public and not just your friends.

Reading   Spraffl: Is Anonymous Local Networking The Way Of The Future?

Of course, it has its downfalls. There is obviously room for abuse – plenty of people have the capability to cry wolf. Even with a flagging system in place, there is the potential to do damage while a post is temporarily up.

Even Though Things Are Looking Pretty Bare…

The app doesn’t have many users. It’s quite obvious, and I’m curious as to if that will change in the future. We’ve seen how Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized the world through social sharing, but this has usually been with the users’ identities revealed. This time around, everyone is a blank face.

Personally, I foresee the app gaining popularity among actual revolutions. Consider the protests that have been happening worldwide in the past few years. Social sharing served as legitimate news sources during this time, but many users were under the threat of their identities being revealed. With Spraffl, that can change. People can share important information without even having to reveal their identities.

Of course, that’s not what the app is designed for. It’s supposed to be fun! That said, will you use Spraffl if its popularity picks up? What are some negative issues that you see with the app?

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17 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Sreekanth Stern

Thanks ! Nice information about spraffl mine is just Android but Good news to me is that they gonna Build spraffl for Android :D

Reply

Jeremy Garnett

Looks worth giving a go. I can immediately see the advertising potential.

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Scott Macmillan

I too see it as a useful tool for political change in Countries were freedom is suppressed and this could be another method that could be added to the quiver of arrows in any revolt against the regime.

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Jay

Hi Joshua, thanks for your interesting article. If anyone is interested in our thinking behind the Spraffl concept, we’ve recently published a vision statement at: http://www.spraffl.com/vision-statement – we’d be really interested to see what people think about the project…

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Dragonmouth

“If people don’t know who I am, then why would they want to talk to me?”

How about, BECAUSE they don’t know you?! Maybe they would like to find out about you. In the old, pre-electronic communication days it used to be called “meeting people”.

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Will Lewis

This is something I would actually use. I hate facebook because 80% my “friends” are acquaintances who I don’t want knowing my likes because they’re not close friend material, ie: bosses, co-workers, classmates, ect. With this social network I can talk about issues or subjects to/with people with common interests and/or I could meet people that can hold a well thought out argument about anything without the fear of being “caste out” as the “odd friend whos on my friends list because I have to deal with him/her on a daily basis”. I could see this site becoming either a very good debate club like social network or a very troll social network. The rules seem to be strong enough to keep most of trolls out though, so I’m excited :D.

Joshua Lockhart

Great stuff, Will! : ) Maybe I’ll see you around. Kind of.

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Anonymous

I totally get this! While I live in a small town, and since I will the only one using it, it won’t be of much use to me. But when I use to travel a lot, I can imagine logging in and posting stuff like “Where’s a good place to eat” or “Big accident on I-95″ or “Any good bands playing in the area tonight” kind of stuff. Might be a way to meet new friends in new places, too.

Jay

Hi Gary

Thanks for your feedback but I would urge you to start some activity in your local area too – we really need everyone to kickstart a bit of local conversation to really bring this into a hyper-local environment – we feel that hyper local conversation in smaller town and communities will also have a huge potential.

We’ve got our work cut-out but if we get there, this could be an excellent social tool…

Take care

Jay

Joshua Lockhart

Jay, how would you suggest starting activity? What are other people doing?

Jay

We’re trying to encourage people to start posting in “pocket communities” such as University lecture rooms or office buildings/places of work – anywhere where you and a few of your friends/colleagues can use the app and get some fun out of it without the rest of the world having to be there at the start.

We’re also finding that interesting questions and debate Spraffs are by far the most popular sources of conversation.

Keep Spraffin!!! ;-)

Jay

Reply

Trevor

What are some negative issues that you see with the app?
Well, obviously, sharing with the people you don’t know. Have you all forgotten the famous line: “Trust but verify?”

Joshua Lockhart

Hey Trevor. I would say just the potential of cyber-bullying and false information. Honestly, I’m not sure what could happen. What are your thoughts?

Jay

Hi Trevor

Thanks for your feedback – a very valid point and we see Spraffl content being verified by the people around. By this I mean that people will only start believing (some) content when it is verified by other users in the same area. For example, if someone posts “this place is really happening right now” it could clearly be written by the venue – it’s only when other people start commenting things like “yes, I’m here, this place is rockin!” etc. when it starts becoming believable.

So it will be interesting to see how it’s used but as we’re ALL anonymous, I think we’ll take some posts with a pinch of salt initially – but that’s not a bad thing.

All the best

Jay

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Mar Viv

I can see that it does have some potential.. Sometimes you just want to chat with someone, it doesn’t matter who.. Sometimes you would rather chat with someone you don’t know. I had never heard of Spraffl but I might just give it a try.

Joshua Lockhart

That’s true. Go for it, Mar.

Reply

ethergloo

Check out SwarmLocal. It is also about leveraging anonymous proximity, but goes beyond and lets anonymous users in close proximity to coalesce and form groups. And if they want to bring an revolution so be it! In SwarmLocal the user is truly anonymous with no logins/ no signups there is no user data in the system to identify who is who. And above all the ‘swarms’ can be mobile too!

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