43People: Write About Anybody

January 3rd, 2007 at 12:00 am

The line between community sites and social networking sites is thin and blurred. What differentiates the two. Infer is all one can do. From the examples of the sites I viewed for both categories, I infer that community sites (CS) are a subset of social networks (SN). They share many features and services in common. The defining point of a CS is that they discuss a certain subject or its a community around a specific subject. Some discuss cars, food, places, technology, academics, games, sports, etc. And just like everything else, why not people? So there is 43people, a community site totally dedicated to discussing people.

Of course discussing people is nothing new. What 43people brings to the table is a web2.0 interface that doesn’t only discuss celebrities or politicians or people in history books but everybody and anybody who signs up on the site.

Anyway, 43people tries to make everybody a topic. For example, I sign up. Automatically my username becomes a topic and a tag in the tag cloud. Now people can say all sorts of things about me and I as a bona fide user, can say anything about anyone I find on the site. It’s like one giant high school yearbook where everybody gets to sign on yours and you get to sign on everybody else’s.

Signing up and picking someone to write about is easy. What if you want to find some one specifically like an old friend or an acquiantace? In comes the major problem. The search function of 43people is next to useless unless you’re searching for a celebrity or a name you can’t even spell. With the enormous amount of people putting themselves up and the miniscule amount of names for those people, you’re most likely not to find that old friend or acquaintance of yours because there are no other fields to filter a query.

Maybe its a way for 43people to let users explore users they do not know and make new friends. Aside from the chaos theory of users just picking out anybody from the stack, 43people allows users to follow or subscribe to the people they are interested in. Something like an RSS feed, so whenever somebody else says something about the one you’re following, you’ll be alerted in you account and/or email if you choose so.

So here’s how it goes, after signing up, the user can invite his contacts to join in and probably start saying stuff about him. The user can also start writing about himself and maintain that on a daily basis like a blog. Of course, he can also do the same for somebody else.

Signing up is not a one-time deal, anyone can make an account for anybody. Like I could make an account for a deceased family member or a computer illiterate friend or a person I’ve never met or a cartoon character or anybody I just made up. Then people talk about them, then they create their own and so on and so forth.

Absurd, it may seem, 43people has amassed tens of thousands of people and they seem to be enjoying it. The traffic on the site has reached a plateau between 40 and 60 million hits a day. Moreover, the company also has the same type of site for things and places (43things and 43places) and they’re also doing really well. And by the way, your account works on all three sites so no need to sign up again.