Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Moomai Picks Looking Glass Theme in Social Networking

Last December, I signed up as an alpha user of Moomai and tinkered with it. This Philippine-made social networking site is in its alpha stage. Prior to this post, I'm quite confused on what Moomai intends to achieve and beat that curiosity by sending an e-mail to Luis Buenaventura, president of syndeo::media, and asked about the future of this new social network.

For Luis, moomai.com is an online social experiment and wants the audience to try it and explore how it goes from there. "I know that sounds really ambiguous, but I don’t put a lot of stock in big master-plans. Ultimately, if we can build something that people enjoy using, then we’ve already achieved a great deal, and that’s the kind of thing that takes a long time and a lot of hard work."

Like many Internet users who get to used a variety of social networking applications, one can't help but say - "not another one!", and this made me wonder on how Moomai will be different. At the moment, the site has some standard social-networking components like friend-relationships and blogging.

But what makes it different, according to Luis, is the rating system based on an old sociological theory called the Looking Glass - that states our sense of self is a composite of what our friends’ opinions of us are, and that we constantly reorient our identity based on the feedback that we receive.

"Moomai is simply a digitization of this phenomenon, wrapped in candy-colored interfaces and humorous prose."

Plans to launch Moomai will depend on how the testers will find it. Luis wanted to reach 250 volunteer testers first and maintain that number for 30-60 days. "So I can see how different groups of people respond to it. Once we’re satisfied that the engine works as advertised, we will move into open beta. At the same time, we’ll throw up Facebook, OpenSocial and (maybe) Friendster widgets that people can use on whichever social network they’re already on."

Observing this market got me intrigued on the revenue model that Moomai is bent on. But Luis admitted that he doesn’t care about it yet. "The reason is this: it’s challenging to come up with a profitable idea, and it’s challenging to come up with an innovative idea. It’s even more difficult to come up with an idea that is both profitable and innovative at the same time. With moomai, I’ve essentially decided that I’d like to try to be innovative first; we’ll worry about profitability later, when we receive our 100,000th signup or when our server bills start to hurt, whichever comes first.

I know that sounds like I’m being facetious, but I think people underestimate how volatile this industry really is when they ask questions about revenue models. Having a solid revenue-model planned out is only useful if you can see into the future and know what your audience will respond to. This will never work for experimental products like moomai because we don’t even know where this website is headed, let alone how we will make any money from it. I personally believe that the trick is to keep your company as agile as possible so that you can pull big 180’s within a small radius. I certainly don’t profess to see the future, but I’d like to think that I can respond quickly once it’s staring me in the face."

For now, Moomai is eager in building up a volunteer population to about 250 people. Anyone who’d like to give it a spin can visit http://moomai.com and enter your full name and email address into the invitation form.

Also, syndeo::media is in the process of growing the team. If you’re a developer who knows or would like to learn Rails, please send your resume to info@syndeomedia.com.

(Photo taken from Luis moomai page. Shot taken by Karla Redor)


joelogs said...

Now it's people who are getting rated. Does that make them "social objects"? Interesting project. Can't wait to see this happen in the political realm.

janettetoral.com said...

@joelogs - i think if the person bonds people together or can create conversation, due to similar interest, then perhaps that makes them a social object.