Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Demyze of My Ryze

I've looked at Ryze a bunch of times in the last couple of years, but hadn't created an account. I thought the concept of "pivots" was interesting, and it's always discussed in the context of social software that works reasonably well. I don't know if the focus was different in the early days, but the service is now all about making money, both for the site's creators and the network marketers who seem to dominate the space.

I guess I should have known what I was getting into -- the tagline on the site is "Business Networking". I had this vague sense that it was about finding other people to discuss shared interests and potential work collaboration. Sharing knowledge and contacts is one thing, but within a few minutes of creating my profile, I already had a bunch of friendly-sounding people signing my guestbook -- at first that seemed kind of cool, but then I realized that they were all trying to sell me something, which made me want to run screaming from the place. It felt like I had volunteered to be spammed.

Before deleting my account, I managed to hunt down the user experience network, which I knew I had seen before. There were familiar names like Peter Merholz, and so I thought maybe there was some hope of redemption for the service. But even once you find some people with a shared interest, there's very little meaningful interaction that can take place there. I could sign Peter's guestbook (to what end?), or try to add some of the likeminded souls to my friends list (so what?). The network message board is useless, with no organization to speak of. An empty experience.

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