Yesterday we launched a new version of 9rules that we like to call ‘Ali‘ (sidenote: We started using codenames for all the new versions of 9rules starting with Version 4, Phoenix, and trust me it makes things easier from a historical perspective). This version does a lot of things differently than previous versions of 9rules and adds quite a bit of new functionality. What I wanted to discuss in this entry was one of the new features of the site that we named my.9rules.
If you actually read what I write you will notice that I called my.9rules a “feature” of 9rules instead of trying to describe it as a full-blown social network, when in fact it does basically everything that other social networks do. However, there were two things that we kept in mind when working on my.9rules:
- We didn’t like how current social networks handled us.
- We wanted to actually make a social network have meaning if we were going to attach it to the 9rules brand.
Last week I asked the question of “What don’t they do well?” and I had Ali in mind when I was writing it. For me, most social networks try to sell me on too much stuff that I don’t need. I already have sites that I write on so I don’t need a blogging option. I use Flickr for sharing online photos so I don’t need another place to do that. del.icio.us handles my links and last.fm watches my music. So as you can see I really don’t need another platform to handle this data, but it would be nice to have a place outside of my sites for others to see what I am getting into.
That is the approach we took with my.9rules. We live in an open data world now. We have so many accounts setup in so many different places that it is hard to understand why some sites believe they have to give you another way to store data. In all honesty we probably couldn’t do photo-sharing better than Flickr or bookmarking better than del.icio.us so why even bother? The point shouldn’t be to lock people in so they are forced to use your site, the point is to offer them a compelling solution so that they want to use your site.
Another issue I have with social networks is they aren’t very social. Usually you get to leave a comment or send a message and that’s it. Maybe you get to be a voyeur into someone’s life, but most places simply offer a one-to-one conversation mechansim. At 9rules, we have Notes where great discussions take place yet there was no way to really get to know the people who you were having these conversations with. In a nutshell we had the “social” without the relationships and created my.9rules to fill that void.
So now you can get to know about the people you are having conversations with through their blogs, photos, links and music. This isn’t about aimlessly adding friends just to see your number go up. This is about actually building relationships with people that share the same interests as you and this is only the beginning.