Once upon a time, MySpace was the most revolutionary thing on the social web (that most people knew about). These days, it’s passé. But several of its former executives are still actively pondering how they can revolutionize social interaction on the Internet—and they’re doing it through a new startup, Gravity.
Led by former MySpacer (then-COO) Amit Kapur, (then-SVP) Steve Pearman and (then-SVP) Jim Benedetto, the company is rethinking forums and groups, online social meetingplaces that haven’t evolved a whole lot since they began. Gravity is bringing forums and groups into the 21st century—and that’s just one of the things they’re working on.
They’ve also looked at the performance indicators and metrics they’re most interested in tracking on these new social meetingplaces—and offering those analytics for any site that hosts conversations (like Twitter, Google Wave, FriendFeed, etc.), free to third parties. Oh, and they’re ready to take all the information they gather about users to great an interest graph, following their conversations to indicate what they’re most passionate about.
Hm. We’ll come back to that one.
The Gravity forums, according to TechCrunch, will be intuitive to anyone familiar with forums, “But their goal is to bring some more recent thinking on data architecture and user interface to the table.” That includes tools that are similar to other popular social sites. Gravity calls their product “conversation engines,” and they’ll be including familiar ways to follow conversations, share information and advertise that you like it, as well as participation incentives. The forums will be based around interests and topics (like most forums) and will be available on the Gravity website—or other websites, through widgets and APIs.
The analytics, Gravity Insight, is even more useful, tracking conversations, posts and topics. It also tracks what posts are most viewed, what threads and users are most active, and the interest areas of the posts. They’ll provide this service free for third parties—to help better collect data for their interest graph.
The Interest Graph is the “religion of the Gravity service.” It examines not only what topics you follow and talk about the most, but the language you use about those topics. It tracks your interest over time (‘interest decay’).
All that leads to a interest-based profile of you, which can make it better at bringing you content (and friends?) you’d like. (Kind of like StumbleUpon, I guess, except that it just figures out what you like, or when you’re over your Hannah Montana phase.) I can’t decide whether that’s creepy or cool. (The service, not liking Hannah Montana. Because if you’re over about 20, that’s straight up creepy.)
Gravity is taking sign ups for the private beta at their website now.
What do you think? What is most interesting about these features to you? Which would you most like to try out?