Social Networking | Volatile Local Networks

by : Alessandro Pistocchi

Fact: many self employed people have a website whose return on investment is zero.

I have worked for years developing small web applications for small businesses. Every single one of them seems to desire getting on the internet, they like the idea of billions of people being able to visit their website and contact them. They think this will boost their business.

However, I also noticed that most of those self employed people do not have the will nor the capabilities to properly market their website. Being a technical person myself, until recently I simply warned my clients that they might need quite a bit of time and effort in order to effectively market their website once it was online, otherwise it just would not make sense to build it in the first place.

I offered them some extra marketing options such as google advertising tools and article submission for a reasonable fee, but many of them refused, thinking the website alone could drive a lot of new clients to them.

Sometimes this has worked very well, but most of the times my clients refused to follow my advices.

Having observed these phenomena, I thought about a solution, which I am sure will be quite popular in the future: Volatile Local Networks.

The idea started from observing people in London (UK), where I recently moved. I see lots and lots of people going to cafes with a laptop or an iPhone and surf the internet when a wireless network is available.

So I thought that it would be great if local self employed people (those within the wireless range) could actually advertise themselves in those networks, or it could be nice that self employed people could walk into a cafe with a laptop and offer the other clients some information about their business should they want to take a look at it.

This is the basic idea of Volatile Local Networks: they are local networks in the sense that information comes from servers which are physically close to clients (servers and clients may actually reside on the same laptop or post-pc-device); they are volatile in the sense that if a person walks in a cafe with a laptop serving some content and then walks out of it, the content is available only while that person is connected. A lot of nice services may be built in this way.

Moreover, if you are a self employed with an office where people come and wait for a period of time, such as if you are a doctor or a consultant, you could offer them some information to browse while you are busy, thereby telling them about aspects of your job they might not be aware of and creating more business opportunities.

Starting from that, I have written a software for the Mac called CuriosityAndVanity that is currently free to use in order to let people try that idea, but I am sure that everyone who has the necessary experience with network programming could easily create a software like that one. I hope that soon Volatile Local Networks will be another great tool for self employed people in order to grow and prosper.