1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]
Build an information network that connects to today’s social networks, but isn’t centralized and dependent on a company or investors.
2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]
Others from Diaspora to Singly/Locker Project are trying, but they focus on the tech first rather than a compelling user experience. We are building a great app first.
3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]
We begin by working with all the existing social networks, connecting first to Twitter, Facebook Google+ and Foursquare. From this base, we provide interesting analytics and insights, while using those connections to enable the creation of a new decentralized network behind the scenes.
4. Why will it work? [100 words]
We will draw people in through a compelling media site that encourages participation via our decentralized platform. We have unique experience in creating some of the most important tools and most influential sites on the social web. And we’re using that experience to build a decentralized, peer-to-peer network that powers a great media property with broad appeal — imagine if Digg or Reddit were open, decentralized and powered by a network instead of votes.
Prior attempts have tried to solve this problem based on the assumption that it is a technical challenge; We believe it to be a social one.
5. Who is working on it? [100 words]
ThinkUp’s cofounders are Anil Dash and Gina Trapani. Most recently, they cofounded Expert Labs, which was backed by the MacArthur Foundation for more than a million dollars, and supported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Those initial efforts created the fundamental platform for this work, and allowed us to attract nearly two thousand developers to collaborate with us on this open source project, with almost 250 of them working directly on the code. The efforts of our initial two-person team are amplified by dozens of passionate core members of the community who are eager to contribute.
6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
We have already built our core platform, ThinkUp, which is one of the most popular web server applications to have been created in the past few years. ThinkUp has robust abilities to connect to social networks, archive your social content, analyze the activity of you and your connections, display your data in useful dashboards, and then communicate this data to other nodes in the network. We’ve built a network with over 15,000 users, more than 5,000 software installations and nearly 15 million individual social networking accounts connected, with most having joined in just the last three months.
7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]
We will build a flagship media property on top of the ThinkUp network, which uses the insights gained to power a large, mainstream advertising-supported property. In addition, we expect affiliate and referral fees from web and cloud hosting providers to provide substantial revenues.
Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: $1,080,000
Expected amount of time required to complete project: 18 months
Total Project Cost: $2,400,000
I’m a ThinkUp user for some time now and I would love to see them get funded to expand their project into a decentralized social network, something I’ve also been asking for going back over a year now.
If you’d like to see them build this, help spread it around.