What did you tweet on the morning of your Wedding? What was your Facebook status when your first child was born? Where are the Flickr pictures from that party on Friday? You know, those pictures? If your social network is more like a social Gordian knot then it’s time to cut it open with Memolane. The San Francisco startup takes the updates from a dozen of the most popular social sites and corrals them all in the same stream. It then organizes that stream into a visually pleasing and easily navigable timeline. Not only does your personal history or ‘memolane’ make it easier for you and your friends to see what’s happening in your social circle, it let’s you string together events into a ‘story’ you can all share and create together. Check out Memolane in the videos below. It’s a cure for a cluttered digital life.
Here’s a fun introduction to the idea behind Memolane:
…and a more practical tour of how to actually use Memolane:
Barely out of the gates for a year, Memolane started its journey by winning the Startup Weekend in Copenhagen in April of 2010. Since, Memolane has gathered $2 million in VC funding, and has moved out of Beta into general use. Their basic unit of social sharing is the ‘memo’, which can be a tweet, update, video, etc. Memolane is already organizing and sharing more than 100 million memos for its users. (Check out more of the company’s story on their own memolane.) If you see a memo in someone’s memolane that you’re curious about, you can always follow it back to origin with a ‘view source’ click. This makes Memolane one of the most beautiful and accessible indexes to the social network out there.
There are twelve social sites currently accessible via Memolane: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Foursquare, Tripit, Vimeo, Youtube, Last.fm, MySpace, Instagram, and RSS Feeds. Wisely, users are allowed to set the privacy level for each of these streams individually. The memos on Memolane come in all the media flavors: text, photo, video, music (via Last.fm’s scrobble), and location/maps. While Memolane’s aggregating and organizing skills are probably the biggest draw to the product, there is some (semi)original content as well. ‘Stories’ are collections of memos that you string together with a united description. Begun on an individual’s memolane, a story is then spread to friends who can contribute to the story, adding in their own media and comments. As with all memos, a story is placed on the timeline, making it easy to find and review. If everything else about Memolane fails, I hope ‘stories’ somehow survive – they’re a brilliant ingredient to the social network soup. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could add in my own photos to a friend’s pics from a party or trip.
While it doesn’t play up this aspect on their site, Memolane is another product that allows us to search through all our social media at once. We’ve recently discussed Greplin which offers that same service, and in fact, has its own timeline feature. While Memolane seems to be focusing on the outward presentation and sharing of data (the public ‘memolane’ or timeline) and Greplin focuses on selling the search itself. Both handle many of the same sites though Greplin is more extensive (for instance, it will index Gmail), and both are working to expand which features on which sites are available (still can’t get pics from Foursquare on Memolane, for instance). Greplin’s reached 1.5 billion items indexed, so it’s well ahead, and covers many more sites/ features. Still, I’m not sure if these two companies will be in active competition, and even if they are, I don’t know if success will actually depend on which can assemble the more complete list of sites and search-able data. Personally, I’m not so much of a social network junkie that I need more than either currently offers. Tweets, status updates, videos, photos…that pretty much covers what I share online. The question is do I want that search to focus on my own personal use (Greplin) or have a less extensive index but be able to present it publicly in an accessible way and search my friends and public channels at the same time (Memolane).
Even if Greplin wins the social search competition, I’m still excited by Memolane as a social networking aggregator. Memolane is like a giant funnel for your digital life, mixing all the streams into a single delicious flow of oversharing. That’s a really cool concept. While Memolane isn’t the first to come up with the idea, they do have a really top notch format that could catch on with users very well. I doubt that one single social network (even Facebook) will ever come to dominate the market to the exclusion of all others. As long as that doesn’t happen, we’re going to want some means of assembling all our different social spheres into one place. Memolane has real potential. It’ll be interesting to see if their own ‘story’ includes a string of social success in the future.
[image and video credits: Memolane]