May 6 2011
I love a good fight. Don’t we all? It’s fun watching sports teams duke it out or seeing boxers pummel each other in the ring. OK, I’ll admit I draw the line with MMA battles but can appreciate the thrill of the contest. In the internet world the fights take a much different form. There’s no referee, excepting the strong arm of the law. There’s no beginning and end of the match. And in the online world, the fight is to the death.
Fortunately, these bouts are between companies and not individuals. It’s the investors who will take the loss or gain the rewards. When someone breaks into the lead, there will no doubt be a number of contenders attempting to take their place. In the social networking world, Friendster gave way to MySpace, which much more recently relinquished the lead to Facebook. Now with Facebook at pole position they’re enduring every form of scrutiny and attack. From competitors, to that annoying ex con who allegedly gave them a few grand to work on “the Facebook” project, they certainly have their hands full.
Being as an internet enthusiast I don’t at all hope for Facebook to lose step through legal wranglings over ancient emails. That would be a tragedy irritating to many who live in the start-up world. No, I’d like to see Facebook be overtaken the old fashioned way- by being outdone by someone else. Part of the fun of the internet ecosystem is how one site paves the path for the next, each playing their part for the greater online community.
Today’s feature is one such contender in the social networking world. It offers a new way to connect with people entirely based upon common interest. And although they don’t introduce themselves as the next Facebook, the start-up enthusiast in me would certainly like to see them make a run for it. Introducing, Splore. The killer of Facebook.
Splore doesn’t have the Harvard dorm room roots of its soon to be vanquished predecessor. It was founded as part of a much more humanitarian initiative. The concept evolved from a desire to create real life search parties. So if you’d lost a family pet or even something as serious as a missing person, you could utilize the original Splore concept design to find them. This notion of seeking what is lost became the broader concept of Splore, where you can seek what is lost in your life. Or, less melodramatically, with Splore you can find and connect with people with shared common interests.
One reason Splore doesn’t introduce themselves as a Facebook alternative is because they have different features and functionalities. This is exactly why I think they’ll make a splash in the social networking world. People tire of the same old thing. They want something new. With Splore you can find that new thing by searching for topics that are interesting to you. So in my testing I set up a quick profile, and splored other people who were interested in boating. I came across a couple Splores including the one pictured below regarding wake boarding. Splores can be created by anyone, and depending on how the creator sets the privacy, others can join or follow. By following you’ll stay apprised of the latest updates. By joining you can be a contributor as well. The Splores themselves are akin to the current Facebook wall, with the huge difference in that it’s comprised of people that didn’t know each other before. This simple nuance is what the internet is greatly missing- the ability to meaningfully connect with new people through a social networking site.
Making the transition to Splore is kind of like sending a kid to kindergarten the first time. Here we’ve all been safely in daycare where our online friends are all people we know in real life. We meet someone new at a party and then later add them as a friend on Facebook. But just like going to real school for the first time can be a bit of a transition, so can going out into the internet for the big kids. To ease the transition, Splore offers the option to register with your Facebook account, so you can bring your friends along to this brave new world.
Declaring the demise of Facebook is a bold if not unexpected statement. Afterall, Splore is still in open beta- not even officially released yet. But the internet needs something new. The stepping stones of the past have taught us that we need a continuous flow of new connections. And relationships are built upon shared experiences based upon common interests. This is exactly what Splore offers. Whether you’d like to find new wakeboarding friends, dancing partners, people to eat dinner with, or whatever topic or activity that suits your interest, Splore is the place you can find it.
Let’s just hope they didn’t email any ex-cons about funding back in their college days.