Everyone likes to share their thoughts and activities with friends and family, but, narcissists aside, most people don’t have time to spend hours each week blogging about their life. Swurl, a new startup that just launched in public beta, is looking to fix this problem.
Swurl is essentially a lifecasting aggregator that pulls your current activity from web services that include Last.fm, Flickr, Amazon, and nearly twenty other sources (you can see the full list here). The site is reminiscent of Tumblr and FriendFeed, automatically adding a new short post whenever you update one of the aforementioned services, and allowing users to comment on each update.
But CEO Ryan Sit says that Swurl isn’t so much about keeping your friends constantly updated on your current activities (à la Friendfeed). Instead, Swurl is more like an automatically generated blog and scrapbook that you’ve created for your friends and family. It’s a subtle distinction that may not be not be readily apparent, but it’s safe to say that Swurl isn’t just a FriendFeed clone.
As entries get added to Swurl, the site will automatically detect what kind of content it is and “enhance” it accordingly. If you rent a film from Netflix, Swurl will append a link to the movie’s trailer on YouTube. Photos from Flickr will be shown full size in an automatically generated slideshow. You can use the impressive calendar function to visualize when actions have occurred, and there’s also a nifty “infinite scroll” that eliminates the need for a “previous” button – get to the bottom of the page, and the site will automatically load the next few entries without having to refresh.
One of Swurl’s key (and perhaps misunderstood) features is its ability to pull an entire entry, rather than just a snippit, from the services it supports. If you create a blog post, it will be recreated in its in entirety within Swurl – something that won’t appeal to users looking to monetize their blogs. But for the vast majority of internet users, blogs are about sharing thoughts, not making cash. You’ll need proper credentials to add a blog to Swurl in the first place, so content-creators won’t need to worry about having their material swiped.
Swurl joins a number of competitors in the life and activity streaming spaces, which include FriendFeed and Spokeo. And while it does sport some similarities to these services, the site is well done and stands a fair chance at silencing its critics.