The reasons I sign up for new web stuff

Admittedly, I sign up for lots of web “social media” services. But I don’t sign up on far more than those I do. Sometimes I’m asked how I decide what shiny new web thing to register on.

Here’s how: I have to answer “yes” to at least two of the following questions.

Do I respect the judgement of someone recommending the site?
Is it something that seems “new” and not merely another version of something I already do?
If it is another version of something I already do, is there a compelling reason to have an alternative?
Is it something that relates specifically to a unique passion I have?
Is it something that challenges me to think in a new way?
Is it something that I believe will be of benefit — or perhaps, threat — to the clients I work with?
Is it something unique and different, but simple enough to be understood by people who aren’t geeks?

Here are a couple of things I’ve started playing with recently:

glue2.jpg

Glue: I’m actually very intrigued by the concept of Glue and believe it gives a glimpse of “what’s next” in the type of “social web use” I find most fascinating. Like “networking” sites, it utilizes the concept of “following” and “followers.” However, with Glue, you don’t go to a specific URL to check in with the actions and opinions of your friends — You discover them whenever you land on a web page about a book, movie, songs, TV shows, wines, stocks and gadgets any of your friends like, or merely have viewed. See, Glue is not a website, rather it is a Firefox “add-on.” Some fascinating things about the service: The item, a book for example, can be visited by one of your friends on any number of websites — Amazon.com, Powells, BN.com — doesn’t matter. When you land on any number of sites that sell the same title, your friend’s avatar shows up — a nice semantic trick. Like any networking thing, the service is more helpful the more people you know sign up. I don’t know yet, but it also may get a bit noisy when you start following too many. And as with any social networking service, you may want to follow different people for unique reasons — i.e., you may value someones taste in books, but not stocks or wines. However, those issues won’t become clear until enough people use it. Before signing up, I recommend you watch this screencast that does a great job demo’ing Glue. If you use Glue, follow me — I’m “rexhammock” there.

Loopt: Back in 2005, there was a company called Dodgeball that got acqhired by Google (actually, it was the transaction that inspired the term acqhire.) The concept had something to do with your mobile phone serving as a means for you discoverinh others you may know who are nearby. As I had neither the desire nor device to use the service, I decided it made no sense. (From the support they’ve given it, apparently Google didn’t either.) However, as I’ve become more fascinated with GPS-enabled devices, I’ve become a bit more warm to the possibility of having something that might alert me to an awareness of friends (or enemies, for that matter) who may be close-by. Loopt is sorta like that — with additional bells and whistles you can learn about here. I’ve just signed on.

Something common about both of these services. They both enable “passive” web activities — visiting a website, for example — to be social gestures. Glue, for example, doesn’t even require a user to “bookmark” something to share it — you just visit it. And Loopt doesn’t even require that. You just click an App button on your iPhone and your posse knows where you are. If Twitter is “micro-blogging,” then these services offer their users the opportunity to do some “Chance Gardner* blogging.”

*One of my favorite movie characters of all time. Chance Gardner is deemed brilliant by others — merely by his being there.

  • Hi Rex – thanks for the great write-up about Glue. We’re excited to have you exploring the product.

    You’re spot on that many of the situations you described where the system could become a bit noisy won’t reveal themselves until more people get on the system. However, we believe that the way that the network is built (on popular pages you visit, connecting with friends who have visited the same thing) will help alleviate these issues.

    For example – if you are interested in my books, Matthew’s movies, and Susan’s taste in wine – chances are as you browse the book, movie, or wine sites that you like these people will naturally reveal themselves. Said another way, while you may see me on a few book pages, you won’t see me on any wine sites because I don’t visit them.

    That’s the benefit of building a network in the browser that exists across popular sites – you can solve for context and present relevant information when/where it makes sense.

    As you explore the service if you have any thoughts or feedback on things that you’d like to see please do let me know.