Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an incredible rise in types of social networking. It’s gained such popularity that it’s now almost virtually accepted in media and advertising, as well as interpersonal relationships for which most of it was originally intended. I don’t think anyone argues the impact Twitter had on the Iranian elections this last summer or the sort of national news coverage Facebook received when it changed its privacy policy recently.

As the market for these general mega social networking sites cools down (though new startups are always welcome into the field) more specialized websites will start to filter into the cracks that bigger sites leave in their footprint. These newer sites have the potential to become their own mega networks over the next few years, and the following are a few we’re keeping an eye on.


Daytum

Daytum helps collect and keep track of data
www.daytum.com
— Daytum is a free social network site with a twist: It allows you to collect and share data about anything you’d like (most users record personal information) and graphs it, charts it, and keeps it in many customizable data sets. My first reaction to Daytum when I heard about it a few months ago was that it seemed awfully demanding. It certainly requires logging information regularly but it’s only to the depth that you want it to be.

I started out with just a few small charts and realized, to my complete surprise, at the amount of fun I was actually having. I increased the number of things I recorded and now look forward to my daily updates. I’ll use my own profile as an example, where you can see my general entertainment consumption, food and drink consumption, and how long I spend on my commute and the sorts of cool cars I see while driving it.

Taking a look around the site reveals that some users keep track of how many times people hug them, what sort of movies they’ve recently watched, what celebrities they’ve spotted, and the number of reps from their latest workout. There’s a catch, though: The site allows for no direct communication between users. I would say this is a big hang-up, but I’d be lying. I’m tired of a “comment wall” attached to every social website out there, especially for sites that don’t really need it.


Kickstarter

Kickstarter allows for creative fundraising for projects
www.kickstarter.com
— I discovered Kickstarter on accident a couple of months ago while browsing Twitter’s recent tweets. I was curious and clicked the link and my life was never the same. By now I’m sure you’ve heard of micro-loan websites out there that allow those of us fortunate enough to live in first-world nations to donate pocket cash to individuals in other countries without access to even small capital to get their dream business started or help out their community. Kickstarter is sort of like that, but for creative types. Artists, musicians, designers, film makers. That sort of thing.

The idea is pretty simple; submit an idea for a project you’d like to get funding for — everything from a video game idea to building a public art gallery — and then establish rewards for varying levels of donations. When another user contributes that donation, you make a promise (when the funding is completed) that you will fulfill your end of the bargain and reward the user. This can be things like a pre-release of your new album, a post card from a distant city, or driving to their house and shaking their hand. It’s essentially anything you can think up.

Right now starting a project on Kickstarter is by invite only. You can register and make donations, but to accept donations, you have to know someone who’s listed as a project starter. I eventually found another project starter on a forum community I visit online, but others have been known to hit up places like Twitter and search for project starters attempting to promote their projects. You may have to make a donation to a project to get a starter to send you an invite, but it’s worth it. Especially when you can specify a donation amount as little as a single dollar.

I started my own project roughly a month ago, and I’m eager to see where it goes. At last check I’ve had almost $180 donated toward a total $2000 goal. With a little effort and some luck in the final weeks from friends and family, I’m hoping to push that goal and restore a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle with the donated money. It’s not exactly world-changing in its scope like some other noteworthy projects, but it sure would be a dream-come-true for this Bullseye employee. I’ve had a lot of fun with Kickstarter so far and I’m looking forward to trying other projects in the future as well. Check out their blog for more cool projects and post-project updates.


LogoPond

Logopond lets logo designers share their ideas and creations in a stunning way
www.logopond.com
— Truly a designer’s haven, LogoPond is a cross between showcase, blog, and social networking website for logo designers and those just interested in logography. It’s not exactly one of the newest sites around, having started sometime in 2006, but it’s growing in popularity rapidly in the last few months, being featured in online blogs and zines such as Smashing Magazine.

LogoPond offers users to rate other users’ submitted works and submit comment and critique. Users can build up a portfolio of items and advertise to new clients. As an unregistered user, it’s fun for me to browse through featured works, read the forums, and see what’s new in the latest section.


Google Buzz

Google Buzz is really generating a buzz of its own
The hottest new thing to hit the internet is Google Buzz: And for good reason! The site theoretically promises to use its own competition to fuel its use, and as people connect to Google Buzz with their other social networking sites, people will rely on going directly to the Buzz in order to get all their friends’ updates, photos, and gossip.

My first reaction to Buzz was that it was completely useless. A lot of people felt this way on Twitter, too. But as Twitter users hook up their Twitter feeds to Google Buzz, and feeding their tweets directly to the Buzz, the Buzz’ use has risen higher and higher. Now friends are able to reply to Tweets “Facebook style” by simply replying to them directly. Combine this power with other Google products such as Picasa and YouTube, and you’ve got what appears to be a winning formula.

I’m still very skeptical of the Buzz, but I can’t imagine it backing out of the social networking ring anytime soon. Unless the world ends in 2012, I imagine that we’ll all be buzzing it up in 2013.

The biggest hindrance to the Buzz is its apparent limitation of accessibility. It’s directly intertwined with your Gmail/Google account, so if you don’t have one, you cannot access Google Buzz. But that raises a bigger question: Why don’t you have a Gmail/Google account yet? How have you possibly survived this long on the internet without using a single Google product?


dailymile

Dailymile allows users to share their workout routines and goals
www.dailymile.com
— Dailymile is unique in that it’s built specifically for keeping track of your exercise goals and sharing them with friends and family; not just on the dailymile website itself, but broadcasting to your Facebook stream for seamless integration.

The idea is a simple one. You keep track of your daily (or weekly) progress and it helps to motivate you by letting you calculate calories burned, joining others in groups, and working towards goals. You can also keep track of the sorts of foods you eat. The best part, it does all of this for free where many other websites with similar services charge a fee. It’s also nice that it doesn’t keep sending annoying e-mails when you’ve fallen behind a little on your New Year’s Resolution — haven’t forgotten about that yet, have you?


MyFonts

MyFonts is a new service and marketplace for font foundaries to distribute their work
www.myfonts.com
— Since discovering MyFonts, it has quickly become my go-to place for new fonts when I need them. The interface is easy to navigate and very smooth. New fonts are easy to see and test online, and the immediate information on how much each font costs is excellent. (I hate having to find buried pricing information!) The homepage offers a quick ensemble of staff favorites, tags of popular types of styles, big font studios and designers, and a list of the most recent fonts.

Purchasing fonts, as you might suspect, is as easy to do as anything else on the website. And finding just the right font is really easy with What The Font, where uploading an image of the font you’re looking for will run it through a computer to determine what it is and how you can download it. My favorite feature is allowing the user-base to determine designer’s accuracy with their tags by implementing a game called “The Tag Game” where users are shown the font, given the tag assigned to that font, and then are allowed to agree or disagree with it. Too many disagrees, and the tag is removed from that font to improve the accuracy of the MyFont database.

In addition to using MyFonts to download or purchase new fonts, the website also serves as a beautiful marketplace for design firms, small upstarts, or even individuals to showcase and sell their creative distributions. Some individuals use MyFonts exclusively to make a living selling fonts they’ve created.


Tumblr

Tumblr is a creative short-form blog service
www.tumblr.com
— Technically Tumblr has been around since 2007, but its userbase is quickly growing and it is now commanding an important role between Twitter and Wordpress. In essence it’s a shortform blogging website allowing users the ability to create a blog that posts messages, videos, pictures and other information without the nitty-gritty of complicated coding or setting up a website. As anyone in the office will tell you, I’m a die-hard Wordpress fan through-and-through (I was the first person I know to advocate using its software as a CMS tool years ago), but I really am impressed with Tumblr’s system and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to start up a blog, whether its their first for four-thousandth. (Were you aware that “thousandth” is a word?)

Tumblr is gaining popularity in part thanks to its high-profile users such as Katy Perry, John Legend, Dianna Argon and popular websites such as Clients From Hell.

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