One of the often repeated criticisms of social media is that it tends to be glib and shallow. That’s a simplification, but I think it has some truth to it — when I’m on a site like Twitter, I’m usually looking for (and sharing) jokes, tidbits of news, and random observations.
Jonathan Gheller is hoping to go in the opposite direction with a new site called Storylane, which is all about highlighting content that’s more sincere and in-depth. That content can take the form of text, images, or audio. For example, if you go to Gheller’s profile, you can find stories about the crucial investor in his previous startup Fashmatch, or recounting the happiest moment of his life.
Storylane allows you to follow individual users, but you can also discover stories that are trending with the general community. Right now, the Storylane front page features some tech relevant stories, including Steve Huffman’s explanation of what it feels like to have sold (and no longer be involved with) Reddit. There’s also also plenty of general interest content, like Storylane designer Matej Hrescak’s description of an inspiring teacher.
Ultimately, when you look at someone’s Storylane profile, Gheller says it should represent the “narrative” side of who they are, rather than just their social connections or random ephemera.
Now, none of this is a huge breakthrough from a technology perspective. You could, of course, share stories like this on Facebook, or on a blog of your own. (And there are other new social publishing platforms emerging, such as Medium.) But Gheller’s goal is to create tools that not only allow this type of expression, but actually encourage it and make it easier.
One of the common challenges with blogging, for example, is figuring out what to actually talk about. Storylane actually presents you with prompts that you can choose from, like “What hobbies do you enjoy the most?” and “What is the most difficult part of your job?” None of these require lengthy answers, but they do ask for a little more thought than, say, updating people on where you are or what you had for breakfast. Users can also ask each other questions, and they can offer feedback on a story, whether it’s a generic “like” or hitting the “I’m moved!” button. (For now, you’re limited to the feedback options that Storylane offers, so you can’t write completely free-form comments. Gheller is trying to figure out a commenting system that avoids, or at least minimizes, trolling and snark.)
As for making money, Gheller says the first goal is growth, but ultimately he wants to allow brands to create a presence on Storylane too.