Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp: these social media platforms and many others put a user's persona at the center of, or on equal footing with, the content a user generates. The sites become glorified directories of outdated, irrelevant information. As users, we waste time populating fields and indicating preferences. One example of a platform that has never done this is Craigslist. We never think to ourselves, "You know what I'd love to know? Where the person who is selling this couch went to college." You need a couch and you find a couch.
The existing profile-centric user experience represents a huge opportunity to move away from directories that capture the past and towards platforms that connect people in the present to share useful content. What would it look like if we shifted focus from constructing our online persona and spent time helping people we care about find what they need right now?