Marc Canter’s Broadband Mechanics has debuted the People Aggregator (currently in private alpha). Normally I wouldn’t blog about a private alpha, but there were zero restrictions on the invite so I assume that it’s OK since embargos are usually very explicit.
First off, this is one of the most ambitious Web application projects that I’ve ever seen or experienced. Finding what it DOESN’T do is more challenging than experiencing all that it does!
Everything on this site is focused on the user. Not on the content…but the human being and our connection to others. It’s focus is on connecting people to others while facilitating a rich publishing environment for aggregating disparate data about oneself, and then connecting to others by joining or building ones own community or network.
Just for grins, I just started a group (Next Generation Internet). Like the screenshot shows, I can create or join a network; build a community; or connect a community. THIS IS KEY since I have multiple affinities right now: I’m interested in Web 2.0, Macintosh, Linux, Open Source software, wiki’s in particular, politics, social shifts (demography, entrepreneurship/capital, et al), and many others. In theory I can have a circle of connectedness here and if I choose not to play in full…I can connect outside of it.
Here are just a few of the intriguing aspects of PeopleAggregator:
- MyPage: The usual profile stuff (general, personal, professional info) along with a blog posting capability. I can also upload media or — since file size is limited — I can put in a URL pointing to the file elsewhere! This is fabulous since I store stuff on high bandwidth/high storage providers so I can point to it and it also minimizes the I.T. demands for PeopleAggregator
- Blog search: Simple searching inside of other’s blog posts
- Gallery: images, audio and video posted by others (which I can aggregate or delete from my stuff)
- People: A way to find people in the site. Lots of search fields pre-defined
- Groups: Just what you think though it’s *very* easy to set one up or join one
- Networks: I kind of don’t get this yet. Maybe join a network of people with similiar affinities? If so, I want to be with the cool, popular, rich people please.
It’s pretty clear that Canter has embraced everything open: standards, the Creative Commons, structured blogging, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tagging and more. As he states on his Broadband Mechanics site:
Centralized social networks continue the notion of data silos, locking up end-users into a proprietary walled garden. The PeopleAggregator is a social network web service that will be used to inter-connect the worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s social networks Ã¢â‚¬“ together.
We can only do that by opening up and giving away our APIs and techniques for doing so. So instead of a single social network with 10,000,000 people Ã¢â‚¬“ we see 10M social networks Ã¢â‚¬“ with 25-150 people in them. This vision of distributed, meshed universe of networks is what PeopleAggregator is all about.
One can come to the PeopleAggregator site and join a network weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re hosting there or create their own network and get their friends and family to join it. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll host that network for free Ã¢â‚¬“ as long as they have under >128 members. Over <128 Ã¢â‚¬“ weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll add ads to the network Ã¢â‚¬“ or one can pay to remove the ads ($10 a month.) WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll also offer downloads of the system, so one can set up their own Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmeta-networkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of networks. This code is open source and free to use for everybody BUT commercial interests. these Ã¢â‚¬ËœcapitalistsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
This is an awe-inspiring effort — especially since Marc totally gets it that it’s about interconnectedness and NOT trying to create the be all, end all site that does everything. Even if you’re only a casual student of the acceleration of the participation culture that’s spawned blogging, podcasting, vlogging, MySpace, and all the other so-called Web 2.0 applications (e.g., lists here, here, here and here) then you’re gonna want to finagle an invitation from someone who is in the private alpha or certainly sign up once this bad-boy is public — and get in on the fun.
NOTE: Just came across this on Broadband Mechanics site. It pitches PeopleAggregator for different audiences.