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Real Time Social Search: It’s coming around again?

August 21, 2011

I worked at a company called me.dium a few years ago. They have since turned into OneRiot and gone on to another target market and business model.  Recently, some me.dium alums circulated an email noting a new company with a very similar idea to the old me.dium.  The new company, Whoislive, is jumping in with a web browser sidebar that you install when you start using their service to surf with your friends  (“Surf with Friends”(TM) me.dium?).

From their website:

For the first time ever, see who is browsing on any Web page. Chat, get tips, share links, and meet new people with similar interests. Use the Web like you always do, only now, see what happens when you can see Who is Live!

Well…sort of.

One major difference between Whoislive and me.dium, again, from their website:

Can I also see people who are browsing on other pages of the same website?

No. You can only see who is live with you on one page at a time.

Me.dium had a map of the local neighborhood of sites your friends were surfing. More or less creepy?  You decide.

Anyway, this reminded me that, while the business model of me.dium didn’t get anywhere, there was some interesting technology under the covers. It was just getting off the ground, but there were hints at some possibly fertile directions for research and development.  It also reminded me that I started to write this up a few years ago and still had a draft around.  Most of the ideas are covered under patent applications made by me.dium (and so are public information already, but nearly unreadable) and some are fairly “obvious” (though that seems to be mostly neglected as criteria for patentability (see, e.g. this patent for a wooden dog toy you throw)). The explorations of how the system might work and attempts to create some toy examples to assist with explanations, as well as, the section on proposed new signals is my work. If you are at all interested in the details of how we were trying to create surf-with-friends, take a peak. (Fair warning, this draft hasn’t been edited much, so some of it might be a little cumbersome.)

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