Friday, November 9th, 2007

Five reasons for MakeFive

Five reasons for MakeFive
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At smashLAB, we love making stuff. As such, we split our efforts between client work and personal projects. Our moral obligation inspired Design Can Change last spring, and our dissatisfaction with the status quo has resulted in our latest initiative, which asks the simple question, “What do you think?”

Facebook effectively affords a common platform for communication. It’s great for catching-up with friends, coordinating activities, and many other things. My challenge, however, is that beyond that, it’s largely founded upon novelty. Although the vampire bites, Funwall posts and poking are harmless distraction, I rarely find myself enthralled by it. Facebook is great utility for linking people and acting as an email replacement, but doesn’t nicely afford a venue for involving discussion.

This week we launched a site that allows people to share ideas through the creation of lists. Although it will never be as big as Facebook, in my opinion it is in ways a better service. Please allow me to share five thoughts on why you might find this new site compelling.

1. New friends and connections help you grow

I increasingly appreciate the connections that I have with my friends. It’s wonderful to see how people change over a lifetime, and learn what drives them to do what they choose. At the same time, I like to meet new people and learn from them. In doing so I find that my life becomes richer and more interesting.

While sites like Facebook map out existing social networks, MakeFive concentrates on building connections with others you haven’t yet met. As you use the site, you might find that someone in another part of the world shares your tastes and sensibilities. This might afford an opportunity for a meaningful new connection.

2. Find answers with the community’s help

Let’s say there’s an 80s party coming up, and we’re having a difficult time thinking of which songs to play. Haven’t we all been here before? A quick search on MakeFive would quickly solve this critical challenge. There are ways to solve this on the web, but MakeFive serves as a repository for just this kind of information.

At its most basic level, MakeFive is a community for commentary, review and criticism. Interested in the best foreign films? Need to find a gift for a gadget-lover? Want to learn about the most engaging new books on economics? With time, MakeFive will increasingly allow one to gain insights on a wide variety of topics.

3. Get the inside track

I’m not interested in what most brochures are selling. When I travel somewhere, for example, I avoid tourist attractions, and seek-out what the locals are in to. Last month, when Peter (a designer at smashLAB) traveled to Buenos Aires, he used the Design Can Change network to contact a designer who suggested particular events to him.

MakeFive exists to streamline this kind of interaction. Find people who think like you, and then share insights and suggestions with one another. (I know that I’ll be using MakeFive to do so before my next trip.)

4. It’s an easy way to start discussions

Meaningful discussion typically requires an investment of time. Needless to say, reading a long diatribe may seem less than palatable. On the surface, the paradigm for our new service seems almost banal: people’s top five lists. In reality, however, this serves as an easy and adaptable entry point to a discussion.

MakeFive allows users to quickly create lists that are easy for others to browse. Those who wish can then dig deeper in to topics and engage in more detailed discussion. As a result, I like to think of MakeFive as “the thinking person’s Facebook.”

5. Meet your “global” neighbors

I don’t particularly care what we talk about, I do, however, feel that it’s important to really engage in meaningful discussion. Something magical happens when we get past talking about the weather. When we break out of our habits and encounter new perspectives and opinions, we grow. I think this is just what helps us better understand one another.

Some will say that I’m stretching, but I do feel there is great opportunity in this site. I believe that MakeFive has the potential to become a community sounding board for the world.

Try it out

On MakeFive you might debate theories around the popular television program “Lost”, share memories about a loved one, discuss technological developments and their significance, or, more importantly, consider which celebrity has had the most plastic surgery.

Whether it’s in jest, to spur debate, or to help people understand who you are, I ask you to try it out. If you enjoy the experience, please share it with your friends. As more people get involved, I think we’ll find the discussion to be quite lively.

We’re waiting for you, at:

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