Fundamentally, what I liked about FriendFeed was that it gave me a way to take all kinds of social data and create a tailored way to view it. And though the idea never took off in the mainstream before their acquisition by Facebook, the desire for a service that can do this, remains. Despite their efforts, Facebook hasn’t solved this yet. And despite all the hype, neither has the new Google Buzz. There are at least a dozen other startups working on this problem too, but no one has even come close to FriendFeed yet. But a new one, still in stealth, offers hope.
Knowmore, is a New York City-based startup founded by Julian Gutman (ex-Google) and Joseph West (ex-Akamai). They’ve already assembled a team that includes Jeremie Miller, the inventor of XMPP/Jabber, Wilson Bilkovich one of the core developers of Rubinius (a Ruby implementation), and Wes Augur, a former principal R&D engineer at Digg. It’s a wide range of talent across a bunch of different fields. The total team is already up to 20 people, according to their jobs page.
Talent aside, what sounds interesting about Knowmore is their approach to the social noise problem. Rather than focusing on complex technologies that only seems to make social data more complicated (“why is this being shown,” etc…), Knowmore is building its product around user experience and human-centric design. The person who helped steer the early design of the product itself was Chad Pugh, the visual designer of Vimeo (though he’s not full time with the team).
As you can see on their splash page, Knowmore’s slogan is the “dashboard for the social web.” As you might expect, the idea is to port in your data from a variety of social networks, and let Knowmore serve it up to you in a way that cuts through the noise. As Mike wrote earlier this month, “social today feels like search a decade ago: lots of noise and lots of spam.” That’s exactly the problem Knowmore is going after.
They believe Facebook and Twitter cannot tackle these problems because they are communication pipes at their core. Knowmore is aiming to be a consumption platform instead.
So will it work? That’s impossible to know without seeing the product in action (the tentative launch date is Q2 2010). But the pedigree of the talent behind this startup and a simple execution of the core idea certainly makes it one worth watching.