So, the latest craze (of 2005 and running into 2006) is online communities. The number of them is incredible. I’m sure I don’t know that half of it. Most of them are ‘community’ for the sake of community with no overtly stated purpose other than a place to hang out online. Others seem to try to add some value.
My awareness of these online community sites started when my daughter told me about MySpace. My daughter and her crowd manage much of their lives on MySpace. I got an account on MySpace mostly so that I could say I had one. I find most of what MySpace has to offer clumsy and incomplete. I find it to be a lot of extra work to get the appearance I want over there. I wish there was a way to point MySpace back to my own web site. But then, that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it.
Next, I became aware of something called Near-Time (I gotta wonder what they were thinking with that name). Near-Time proposes to be a collaboration portal. A place to coordinate the efforts of a virtual and geographically scattered team. “Work Together – On The Web” Hum. Not so much. I suppose it might work for some. It doesn’t work so well for me. However, I do have a presence on Near-Time.
Then there is Gather. It strikes me as being something akin to what Yahoo was back in the beginning. Yahoo was the first index of the web, if you will. Gather appears to want to be an index of the Cyber-Community where people connect themselves through catagories called Topics and tags. Tags is definitely a running theme through all this cyber-connectedness. Everything has tags. In most cases, the tags are pretty random which limits their usefulness.
It’s kind of like ID3 tags for music. In order for everyone to use them the have to be so generic that they are mostly useful to no one. A song marked ‘Jazz’ is useful information to my daughter. She now knows that she does not want to listen to that song. However, Jazz tells me very little. Being a bit of a Jazz fan, I immediately wonder what kind of jazz. My iTunes genre list contains 13 genre in the Jazz catagory. In order for tags to be useful they need to be specific and universal. Or not. My tags are useful to me. And as my friend cls might point out, that’s all that matters.
Yeah, I have a presence on Gather too.
A bit more to the useful end of the spectrum, Last.fm – The Social Music Revolution proposes to do community based on the music we listen to. I think it’s kind of a cool idea. There is a client that installs on your computer. It posts the songs you listen to to your account on Last.fm. As Last.fm gains an understanding of your taste and preferences in music the site fosters community by bringing those with similar tastes together. This through the concept of neighbors. A neighbor is someone whose taste in music is similar to yours. Kind of a cool idea. You can take a look and see what kind of eclectic stuff I listen too.
A week or so ago my friend, cls, turned me on to Yelp. Now, I don’t know about anyone else but these days when I am planning to buy just about anything, I go to Amazon and read the user reviews. I prefer this to all other reviews because these reviews are not paid for. If a product has 30 reviews, none of them good, it is a safe bet the product sucks. Yelp aspires to be the same thing only for restaurants and the like. Members review the places in their neighborhood. If you’re traveling to another neighborhood Yelp might be able to provide you with useful information about where to eat, have a coffee, hang out, whatever. Interesting idea. Of course, Amazon works because you can also buy stuff there. In fact, I would have say that Amazon is probably my primary shopping destination. I love Amazon. Yelp? The jury is still out. It’s a great idea. We’ll have to see how well it implements. Yes, I’m on Yelp too.