Sometimes you have to go out on a limb. Take a risk and shake things up a bit. I’m going to go out on a limb today and predict that every person reading this has a Facebook account. Some of us have more than one. It is such an integrated part of our lives that it seems we couldn’t live without it. You aren’t officially friends with anyone anymore unless you’re Facebook friends. When a bunch of people go out together and take pictures they promise to upload them and tag everybody on Facebook. It’s how we learn who’s dating who, and what’s going on and where. Relationships aren’t considered official until they update their Facebook status to indicate that. And the sorry walk of shame takes on a whole different meaning when you say hello to a girl and she leaves you hanging right there on her wall.
This free for all of information is great. People can connect with others that they haven’t talked to in a while. You can stay up to date with those you otherwise might not think to call. This connectedness is what keeps it as one of the most popular websites online. Yet with the open sharing of information comes some drawbacks. Namely, open sharing of information. When someone ‘friends’ you on Facebook it puts you in somewhat of a quandary. You have one of three options. Accept them as a friend and they can see all your intimate details. Ignore them and they’ll hate you forever. Or conditionally accept them as a friend assigning them to a separate friend list. They’ll probably figure out that they’ve been quarantined and decide to hate you forever as well.
Most people are fairly welcoming and go ahead and induct people into their following of Facebook friends. As more and more people join the club people are less comfortable sharing things online. The same place you hang out with your buddies has become a forum for teenager’s parents to listen in. The same place you’d like to chat with a new girl has an unfortunate array of old ones. (For this situation defriending someone is sometimes the best option.) As much as we like being able to share anything and everything with the entire online world, sometimes we just want our privacy.
For this, we found YapTime. YapTime is like Facebook, but private. It’s designed to allow a network of individuals to join select groups where only they can view and share information. All your cares and concerns about privacy- gone.
The way it works is you can create, or be invited to join, rooms. For our testing we created the Bonsai room, where our network of bonsai tree enthusiasts can meet and share information. The group creator will set up the room. This includes giving it a name, uploading an image for the group, and inviting members. All rooms are private so only those who receive invites can join. From there it carries on much of the dynamic that, perhaps, Facebook once had. You can share (yap?) information on what looks suspiciously like a wall. Photos of bonsai trees can be uploaded. Videos of proper repotting procedures can be uploaded and shared as well. Events can be added to the Calendar to mark special dates. In this case the seasonal trimming event along with a chicken toss will likely make the schedule. All members are listed along with their respective profile pics. Our particular club kind of resembles a bingo or bridge club. Not the most excitable group but they make decent company.
Whatever the occasion, cause, or group, YapTime provides an easy way to bring everyone together. Its simple and intimate interface allows you to keep your groups of friends the way they are in real life- separate. You can join or create as many groups as you would like. As an added bonus, groups are each assigned a private email. Members can use this to respond to recent photo uploads, or post to the YapRoom (the wall). However people prefer to access YapTime, finally there’s a place online where private groups can gather.
As it turns out Private-Social Networking is a bit of an oxymoron. In any case, YapTime came and went. We encourage its founders to keep pursuing future endeavors as they did put together a good site.