social networks

As part of my research for our new online community I have read through a pile of reports, many from Forrester. I have read them with mixed emotions.

Some show great insight and Forrester are very good at structuring phenomena in the world of social networking sites. But sometimes you cannot help yourself from giggling and thinking of how true old sayings still are. Like “experts often discover things that ordinary people have known for ages”.

Savor this one from a Forrester report called Organic Branding: “People don’t form and interact with communities in order to support a company. They do it to serve their own emotional needs”.

What great insight! Such revolutionary thinking! Such gobbledygook! What an astounding example of discovering the obvious. (more…)


It’s amazing what kind of profane things come up during a project like this. Still, if you get them wrong you can create havoc further down the road.

Today it was time to discuss if members should be able to change their alias or not. It came up since a test user had misspelled his alias and wanted to correct it. At first glance, you say “of course you should be able to correct typos.”

But then you think of the consequences. Let’s say that a someone has been a member for a month or several and then suddenly decides to switch screen name.

Then what? (more…)

A hot topic in our project right now is what is the best method kick off member recruitment?

Just opening up for anybody to sign up or to do the “invite a limited number of friends”-thing?

Of course, opening up for anybody makes it easy for Tom, Dick and Harry to join the community. But does it create the buzz? (more…)

Have you seen the iA Web Trendmap 2007? It’s just great, particularly for folks like us in the process of building a new online community. Where do you really belong? Are you in sharing, technology or what? Know your neighbors conceptually and user benefit-wise and set out to diffirentiate from them.

I just love it!

Just read an interesting post on “How to Monetize Social Networks” talking about how Facebook and MySpace are striving to go beyond Google ads. It mentions the reluctance of members to accept too obvious publicity.

I think that to a considerable extent, that reluctance or willingness is linked to the benefits delivered to the members of the network. Which, on the other hand, would be linked to the networks long term survival-chances anyway.

I have just spent half a Sunday migrating umpteen items from our to-do and wish list in Google Spreadsheets to Toby’s Trac system.

I guess it will turn out useful, making it easier to manage the workflow and to trac back on past actions. But it was pretty mind numbing just sitting there rewriting all the entries and dropping down all those menus. And of course, Toby had created categories with a techy slant. There was no category for commercial, for example.

But, in all honesty, (more…)

Probably not the same cab, but it’ll have to do as illustration

There I was in a cab, with a good job and fair pay, still thinking: “wouldn’t it be just great to work for myself and not for others?”.

Ideas like that had popped up regularly for a couple of years. I even had a business plan pretty ready when my employer was acquired by a really big corporation and my dayjob turned more interesting again. The problem with all previous ideas had been that they were based on consultancy services – just like my present job – and that means, of course, that what you earn is directly related to how many hours you work. Does that sound like fun to you? I mean, should working for yourself just mean working your ass off for just as many hours that you are working your ass off today? Except that the doe would go into your own pocket, of course. No, there must be something better to do.

So there I was in the cab, changing my mind-set to conceiving a business concept that was not directly related to how many hours I bill. (Yes, I do understand that starting your own business isn’t done in an afternoon. It takes great efforts and many hours. But my hook was to avoid hinging the long term turn-over to hours worked on a continuous basis).Another family, more famous than mine… so far

Another thing to keep in mind is that I have a good life today, with a family I love and a house I own (small loans, too). I don’t want to risk all that. So the concept had to be something that you can start on the side, without too great a risk and without upsetting your employer too much.

Ten minutes later, the core concept was ready.

You see, I’m not one of those very young start-up upstarts (witty, hey?). I’ve been in business for a while. But the point is that I often beat the kids when it comes to being creative, identifying trends and thinking up new concepts. Some five years ago, at a seminar in trend spotting, I claimed that social web functionality would be a main trend in the years to come. (I don’t pretend to have been the guy inventing that particular expression, but I did see it coming.)

So, the idea is about building a new web community to fill a gap that we think is waiting to be filled. When I mentioned the idea to some close friends and colleagues they all said: “Yeah, you’ve got something there. I haven’t seen anyone doing just this. Maybe bits and pieces of it, but not in this combination. It would be really great to be able to do just that.” And as with all social networks, their value to the members increases with the number of members. Which means that if you do it well enough and get members enough, you can hope being able to make some money from displaying Google Ads.

Oh, no! Not a nother web community, you say. Of course, I wouldn’t want to open just one more of the same as all the others. This is different of course. But I can’t tell you just how it is different. Not yet. I don’t want to give anything away so someone else could do a rip-off.

I thought it could be interesting for others to get some insight into the ins and outs and birth pains of a new web project. That’s why I start this blog. Since this is my first start-up, you might find a bit of tooing and froing, but that’s supposed to be part of the fun – for you that is. For me and my band of brothers (and sisters) it might be a bit painful. If you have any ideas on how to relieve that pain, you’re more than welcome to pass on some wisdom by commenting.