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Social networking sites are so last year, events sites are very this year - and intown2 is trying to cover both bases. If you're in London, or Seattle, or San Francisco or wherever for a day or so, and a friend of yours happens to be there too, why not meet up? Well, usually because you don't know they're there at the time. Put your address book and your calendar into intown2 and as long as they do the same, you'll be able to catch up with people.

This has the same barriers to entry as any other social networking site: you have to put in all your friends (by hand or by importing a CSV file) and so do they, plus you have to enter your travels one at a time. Obviously there are privacy issues with importing your address book and calendar into a public site wholesale, but there has to be a better solution.
- Offer the service as an add-on for existing social networking sites like Linked In, where you can cross-check against your address book, you've already done most of the work and where there is a big enough pool of other people who have too.
- It would be a natural add-on for Plaxo, where you're already trusting them to keep addresses up to date.
- Offer to scrape your address book in the same polite way Linked In does rather than making you export a file by hand, and offer to scrape the calendar for multi-day events as a starting point (always with the option to leave an event out).
- Or go the distributed route like FOAF; when more people have calendar info published on line, a site could aggregate it and help you find passing friends that way.
It's quite late to start a social networking site from scratch, even with a clever idea like matching locations. If a lot of people have to do a lot of work for an non-deterministic reward (you might not find any travelling friends going your way), even a free site has a high cost.

And the free account only allows you to add 10 friends; I think I can keep in touch with that many people by email, actually. The public events categories are an odd mix of sport, theatre and gay pride marches. The site asks for the cities you visit most but doesn't offer those as quick options when you create a trip. There's no widget to put on your web site encouraging people to click through to intown2 to check if they're going your way. It's a nice idea, but there are a lot of rough edges.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
1st Mar, 2006 13:37 (UTC)
I can't see any of these things working because they force you to one site. Is anyone writing pattern matching robots for iCal files, because the future seems to be people publishing their own calendars in this standard fornat, and letting the reader choose the processing application.
3rd Mar, 2006 09:15 (UTC)
Your Intown2 critique
Hi Mary,
Thanks for taking the time to give us a going over. We're keen to get it right and your comments are very welcome. The restriction to 10 was pretty dumb (my idea actually) and its been lifted. Some of the import and 'scraping' challenges we're working on.

Thank you!

Hugh McGarry
PS We like cats too!
3rd Mar, 2006 11:59 (UTC)
Re: Your Intown2 critique
Cheers Hugh. A limit makes sense if you're wanting to upsell people, but not if you're wanting to build a large enough pool of people that there might already be someone I know. Do let me know when you get further with the import and I'll have another look. LJ is probably a good testbed for you - there are many distributed connections and people looking for ways to meet up.
4th Mar, 2006 04:38 (UTC)
Re: Your Intown2 critique
Will certainly keep you up to date and its very kind of you to offer a further view - LJ does seem a large cutabove the many others I've encountered. Coherence comes to mind.

Making it easy to add travel dates is certainly one of our largest challenges. The MS Outlook etcCalendar/Meeting/scheduler don't demand a city name which is of course fundamental to what we're about. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said there's got to be a well perceived payoff for going to the trouble of punching them in - other than the serendipitious (phew)opportunity of finding that a pal is Intown2. We may have been a little too holier-than-thou in avoiding the 'networking' angle.Hmmm... Anyway, more later...in the meantime its back to the deep end of the think tank.

Enjoy your West Coast jaunt while we swelter in Suanapura.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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