Ever since singing up to the now defunct Six Degrees site, I have been toying with the idea of real-time social networks. Back in 1997, excited about the amazing potential of social networks, I added all my friends’ email addresses to my Six Degrees profile, only to discover a few days later that they were all rejected out of fear of their email address being used for spam.
But there was something amazing in the simple idea of building a network of people on-line and then using that network to create a community. When Friendster showed up, and later MySpace, I no longer had the time to spend on-line building a virtual social network.
About two years ago, while working for a major bank in New York, my team was relocated from a great space where we all had private offices (some with river views) to tiny cubicles straight out of Office Space. I was observing how the frustration from the move caused the team to produce more gossip than C++ code, and for the most part it was highly entertaining.
The problem was, working in an open space in the heart of Corporate America, it was hard spreading gossip about peers and management without being afraid of getting in trouble. I started thinking about using instant messaging to spread rumors around the office, and the idea evolved into a more elaborate service in which users create channels and others subscribe to via email, instant messaging, SMS, or read on the web in real-time as the content is being posted. I wrote a 5 page document and called it Extreme Blogging.
The more I thought about it the more I realized how big the challenge of building such a service is. Working as a software development manager building high frequency trading applications, I started toying with what it would take to build such a platform from the ground up. Around July 2006 I started talking to friends about this idea, and the following month formed a small partnership with two other developers to try and build a prototype of such service. But with demanding day jobs the partnership didn’t work out and faded away. What didn’t fade away way my growing interest in seeing this idea materialize.