Have you ever wanted to know if one of your tweets made people happy? Or if you're getting any "better" at social networking?
A new project by Gina Trapini and Anil Dash, both of some internet renown, aims to tackle such questions. Trapani and Dash argue that social networking is due for a makeover. It's hard—but not impossible—to argue against that. On one hand, the term encompasses such a large swath of the digital ecosystem that it's hard to pin any generalizations to it. On the other, there's little doubt that much of what we deem social networking is riddled with flaws ("inspirational" Facebook memes and follower counts come to mind). Besides, social is in its infancy, and is bound to evolve.
That's precisely what ThinkUp wants to do: evolve social networking. The app connects social networking accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, then extracts data and presents it to you in a useful way. As is pointed out in the introductory video, you should have access to the same data about yourself that large corporations do.
To my mind, that's an extremely admirable premise, but what will ThinkUp do with that data? A couple of examples are given on the project page:
Admittedly, the execution may not match the aspirations in their loftiness: whether or not people like your old or new profile pic would hardly be an earth-shattering revelation. Nevertheless, it's a good start. As Dash puts it in his unveiling of ThinkUp:
Instead of trying to tack on a focus on ethics or responsibility after the fact, it could be baked in from the beginning.
One of my favorite aspects of the ThinkUp philosophy is that they choose to place as much emphasis on what ThinkUp doesn't do as what it does. It does not, for example, turn social into a popularity contest, or "optimize conversion rates on your monetized eyeballs."
Right now, ThinkUp is in crowdfunding phase. The goal is to reach 1,000 backers, and they're right around that mark as of this writing, with 16 days left to launch, so it looks like they'll easily make that goal. Early Bird backing is sold out, but you can still get in for just $10 more with a "Member" package for $60 per year. That'll get you "insights n your Facebook, Twitter, or other social network account," a book of interviews titled Insights, and a reserved username. Of course, higher levels of membership are also available.
It remains to be seen just how ThinkUp's deployment measures up to its principles, but it's difficult not to root for a company built on such a commendable foundation of values. Check out the video below to see the intro video. If you're sufficiently intrigued, head on over to the ThinkUp page to learn more.