Two weeks ago, Google launched Hotpot, a new site related to Google Places that makes it easy (and sort of fun) to rate your favorite venues and see what your friends have recently liked. The tech press seemed to take notice of the site for two reasons: first, it’s got a nice design and is more fun than you’d expect. And second, Hotpot is a pretty strange name.
Now, it didn’t take long to figure out that this was a reference to the group-oriented Chinese meal hot pot, but many people have never heard of that, and Google didn’t really go out of its way to explain the choice. Now, two weeks after it left some people scratching their heads, it’s posted an explanation to its Places blog that gives a bit more background:
Hot pot, the dish, is about community. You and your friends huddle together and add ingredients to a pot of boiling broth, creating a delicious soup to be enjoyed by all. Sometimes you take your own food from the pot, and sometimes you taste what your friends have added. This shared experience of gathering around a fire to cook and eat communally is a fundamental illustration of how we’ve come together to enjoy food from the earliest days of humanity.
Of course, none of this could possibly be related to Facebook’s acquisition of Hot Potato, whose founder/CEO Justin Shaffer is now head of Facebook Places. Which obviously competes directly with Google Places.
Stay tuned for Google Places’ next product, 3square, named after the cafe/bakery founded by Hans Röckenwagner in Venice, California.