Every few years someone tries to unseat the big social networks by creating something unique and unusual. They often fail. However, I think MyFiveBy has a fighting chance. Built by a team out of Barcelona, the web-based app creates a sort of “workspace” for your microblogging exploits, allowing you to bring in outside content and post directly to the service. The UI is a bit complex and skeuomorphic, it does have a sort of weird charm.
To begin, understand that the project is a labor of love. “We are not funded. We’ve dedicated all of our free time and weekends over the past year to build this of our own accord, because we believe in it,” said one of the founders, Harry Marshall. The team built the project over the past year and have just come out of beta. They’ve added a very cool feature – a sort RSS scraping – that will bring in all of your older content right into the system, ensuring that the community is vibrant right from the start.
“We’re coming out of the gate and don’t currently have traction. We’ve built in a feature that should allow us to build content quite fast, to get started – users can type in the web address of their existing blog, if they have one, and myfiveby will automatically search for and add their RSS feed, syndicating their content,” said Marshall.
“We were originally working on a very simple network to let people share the 5 principles they live their lives by. As we developed the site, we realised the structure we’d planned would be able to support a much wider variety of content. As it turned out, all of us had started and subsequently abandoned a personal blog, and so we started investigated this and speaking to others in similar situations to find out what had gone wrong.”
Given the popularity of microblogging services like Tumblr and “writing services” like Wattpad, it’s clear the team is at least attacking an interesting problem. While I would disagree with some of their design decisions – it’s far too noisy as it stands – there is still plenty of room for better blogging platforms out there.
“myfiveby is blogging for people who aren’t into blogging. Blogging should be as easy as owning a diary. You have a diary, you write in it, that’s it. WordPress and CMS-like blogging platforms can be bewildering to set up. Having CMS-like functionality and the ability to completely reskin and redefine the blogging platform as something else is fantastic. But so is a diary that you just write in. MyFiveBy is like a diary that you just write in. We leave the ‘turning a blogging platform into a CMS’ to the others.” Although you log in through Facebook, don’t fret that the app will blast your friends. “We don’t post back to Facebook. So we don’t do it.”
The team is working on more discovery systems for users, a “Zen mode” to reduce writing distractions, and a text editor. Like Kumbuya, the real problem here is virality and getting folks to start clicking on some of these stories. While my excellent discourse on the site thus far is fairly mundane, I’m sure a Quora-like following of die-hards could accrete around the service.