My first impression on checking out Zooloo was that it could fall into the category of YAWN — yet another whizzbang network. Would people have time for one more social entanglement?
I sprung the question to Zooloo’s CEO Jeff Herzog who was inexplicably swinging a golf club when I visited the the offices. In the age of smart pointing devices and tons of content, a club as an over-sized pointing device might be a good idea –in case I completely missed the point :-)
“Social is just one component,” he said, quickly focusing on the big differentiation: the fact that you could register, build and customize your digital footprint in a snap. ” Zooloo is a dashboard that brings together your digital and social life.”
In other words, a way to rein in internet clutter.
Like you, I am very suspicious of shiny new objects, and anything that promises to be game-changing, despite Herzog’s reputation for having created iCrossing. (Full disclosure here: I worked very briefly for iCrossing.) The mural on the wall (above), and toys strewn on the floor give you a sense that this is not your typical tech firm.
On the other hand, I work in an organization that uses a visualization space as a digital dashboard –a very large dashboard– so I know its potential in a data-rich world. But could a ‘dashboard for your digital life’ have enough takers?
For instance: How would a personalized social network be relevant to those people who did not spend their entire lives on the Net, I asked.
Long pause. “Who are they?” he asked.
I was thinking of teachers, and hair-dressers, and the mechanic at my car dealership, a coffee shop owner… I ask them all the time, and they think all this tweeting, and blogging is a waste of time.
“Even for someone who spends just one-third of his or her life online, a dashboard like this would make that one-third of time spent online very productive,” Herzog shot back. It is “just 15 percent of the experience.” What’s connected to it, what surrounds that dashboard, is what differentiates it.” Hard to disagree with that. Still, Zooloo as a pretty neat concept. If not exactly novel (with such tools as Page Flakes, and apps like Eventbox) it fills a huge need. If one of the four benefits work, we could be talking of Zooloo the way we once talked about other brands with double O’s in their name:
- One digital address. It will be the home of your personal brand, and where you can be contacted — “your next cell phone number,” as Zoolooites call it.
- Time management: Why spend all that time opening up Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, Flickr and Gmail, when you can access and update all of them in one place?
- Privacy filter: We struggle with whom we can share what. Grandma doesn’t need to see what we uploaded to SlideShare. My directors don’t need to see my vacation photos. One dashboard with many filters can take away this headache. My LinkedIn buddies don’t need to see my Google docs…
- A kind of lifehack: Simplifying everything we will add on to our already cluttered lives –blogging, shopping, file storage, email, news etc
I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t let me embed WordPress. The default blogging app was clumsy, to say the least. MAybe we are spoiled with the streamlined WordPress and Typepad interfaces. In the next few weeks I will check it out a bit more, here. I’ll keep you posted.