January 22, 2009

Plinky Launches With Prompts to Spur Stuck Bloggers

Starting a blog can be daunting for a lot of people. Jason Shellen, a key member of the original team that started Blogger, says that many people easily get disenchanted, asking "what do I do?", when viewing a blank page. His new service, Plinky, launches today, with hooks that not only help to connect friends, like many other social media tools, but also help to provide new discussion points, with an engaging tool called "prompts".

I spoke with Shellen today, in advance of this afternoon's launch, and he said he felt that while many different social media tools have focused on aggregation and developing rich media, less attention has been spent on the creation experience itself. As a result, many of these services have grown outside of the mainstream, limiting their potential market.

"I didn't think for the average user, there was really much work being done," Shellen said. "We wanted to develop something that was really fun, and I wanted to see answers to things I wanted to know from my friends. Plinky is to inspire people, and make them create content and look good doing it."

You Can Answer Plinky's Multiple Choice Questions

An Example Answer from Me On My First Paycheck

One of the quickest routes to creating interesting content through Plinky is answering one of the prompts, seen on the front page of the site. When you answer one of the prompts on Plinky, your answer is shown alongside other users of the service, and you can send the data out to any of third party services the product supports on day one - ranging from Blogger, to Twitter and Facebook, for starters.

Plinky Grabs Album Data from Amazon for My Mix Tape

I Can Send My Plinky Notifications to Twitter or Facebook

Plinky, which is starting off with a team of seven, based in Lafayette in the East Bay, also features many of the friend connection aspects you have seen in other products. You can browse all the users of the site, and choose to follow them, like making friends or followers in Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook. By following them, you can go to the drop-down of Answers and see "Followed Answers", giving you all the answers to prompts from those friends you following on Plinky.

I Can Choose to Follow Other Plinky Users

And like Twitter, you can even make answers to prompts as your favorites. So if a friend of yours says he has an awesome answer to songs he would keep on his mix tape, one of the prompts this week, you can click Favorite and see it in your favorites list.

If you think you are a social media guru and power user, or you're one of those bloggers who is posting stuff every day, Plinky might seem a little light for you, but for the much larger audience who gets writers' block and can go weeks without updating their blog, or maybe they posted a picture of their kid once and never came back, after sending a mass e-mail to their friends and family, Plinky is a fun way to get re-engaged with new ideas, as you answer prompts, see what other friends have said to the same questions, and can pass that data out to the rest of your online presence.

In a world of social media when so many things are about how many places you're signed up and everything you're doing, Plinky gets back and focuses on the social. Now, I just might find out whether you change clothes when you get home, what your favorite venue is to catch a concert and how you got started in your career. You can, as always, find me with the ID of "louisgray", here: http://www.plinky.com/people/louisgray.