Are we Simler?
That is the question driving the Internet’s latest vowel-deprived social platform. If Facebook is designed to help you stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, Simler takes the opposite approach. Instead of designing another social network where activity revolves around a user’s social circle (as defined by their “friends”), Simler’s social interaction revolves around ideas.
How it works
Allow me to explain. Users join the site and are prompted to enter ideas, topics and interests. Each of these inputs is captured as a “tag.” These tags later become flashpoints for conversation. Interested in talking about Michael Jackson? There is a conversation thread occurring under the [Michael Jackson] tag. Perhaps you’d prefer to expound on the ramifications of fast vs. slow zombies. Simply add a [zombies] tag to your profile and jump into the conversation that’s already in progress.
Users can create add new tags to the Simler ecosystem at any time. The result, though a bit chaotic, is a hybrid between a BBS, a message board, a chat room and a social network.
The social networking aspect kicks in as a user continues to use the site. Every [tag] a user joins is added to their profile. Over time, the system has a pretty good idea of what you’re interested in. This list of interests is a far more accurate self-portrait than the usual posturing that occurs on user-created profile pages. (Are you REALLY an avid Shakespeare fan, or did you just read Hamlet in high school?)
The Simler system uses this data to find other users who are similar (Simler?) to you. Presumably, you’ll both have lots of things to talk about. Still, amassing a group of “friends” isn’t quite the social status maker it is on other platforms. Having a “friend,” really just means that that user’s comments will show up in your ‘homestream.’ It’s really less of a “friending” system and more of a flagging system. “This user seems interesting and I would like to hear what they have to say.”
Who are you?
Social interactions aside, what fascinates me about the Simler platform is its unique approach to understanding and building a user profile. There have been no shortages of attempts to profile users on the Internet: social network profiles, Twitter analyzers, demographic surveys, and more. Simler’s approach, constructing a profile of interests from on site activity, feels the most resistant to user manipulation and seems likely to paint a fairly accurate portrait of the user. Certainly matching users with similar users is a fun use of the data, but I’m wondering how else they could harness their data. What could a site do with Simler Connect?
The site just launched last week and is still experiencing growing pains. Things like how to handle multiple threads on the same topic or managing conversations that span multiple topics? What is the best way to follow conversations and find new ones?
Regardless, this is one platform to keep an eye on. Those monkeys have some big ideas.