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December 31, 2003
Ideas for Social Software
's linking to Matt Haughey's ideas for useful social software
Matt suggests "Epinions + Friendster," which sounds a lot like a company that Paul English
, Rick Levine
and I tried to start a few years ago. Matt puts the problem well:
Last summer I moved to a town in a place far away from where I've spent the past few years, and one of the first problems I had to solve was finding the perfect everything. I quickly amassed a bunch of questions that took months of trial and error to answer through a network of new friends and neighbors. Where could I get a good haircut? Which one of the local dentists would be most understanding of my dental anxiety? Which store should I shop for food at if I want a lot of organic, natural, and meatless food? Are there any trustworthy mechanics in this town? Which one of the two Thai places is "the good one?" Where should I go for a nice night out here? Which theater plays the art house movies? Which one of the furniture stores should I trust with my money?
We bought the url WordOfMouth.com and set up shop in Boulder, CO. The initial idea was to provide a way for webs of friends to share information about local services like the ones Matt describes. You'd list which services you use, and rate, review and discuss them. You'd also be able to indicate who you know and trust, and join clusters of the like-minded. We hooked up with newspaper sites, integrating with their yellow page services. And then the company went broke. The newspapers loved the service so long as it was free to them. Getting them to pay was a whole 'nother issue.
I still think the initial idea is solid; hardly a day goes by that I couldn't put a service like that to some use.
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