Thu, 20 November 2003, 9:17 am
I’ve been researching Social Software for a few weeks now, first hearing about it via an invite to Friendster. I’m intrigued because the whole “revolution” is based on a concept that flamed out personally for me 3 years ago. At the height of the dotcom boom I was the lead UI designer for an internet startup named “Who2Trust”. Our model was to build a directory of recommended service businesses (doctors, dentists, financial planners) through people you trust. We had the whole 6 degree of separation thing. We wanted to make money from businesses buying profiles, just like they buy Yellow Page ads. Our competitors included iThought.com, Servicelane.com, and others. We failed for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was motivating people to make connections and recommend businesses for the shear joy of it. Anyways, it’s very interesting to read a designer’s view of his own little startup from 1999 called epinions.com. In Peter Merholz’s view epinions is the Social Software website that’s got it all.
I wrote a few epinions and certainly got into the pay per review earnings model. It was cool to see how many people read and liked my reviews. And there certainly was some competition to get more friends into my web of trust and keep doing better and better reviews to make more money. The thing is that the affinity is very loose. I knew none of the people in my web personally, and I don’t feel bad for having left the site unused for 3 years. My point is that I don’t put too much stock in Social Networking as a primary means of maintaining relationships unless I’m getting relevant information. I think that the social networking caused by interlinked blogs has some potential to get me there. Is there a way to have an RSS feed with 6 degrees of separation from the friends list in my blog?