[Reposting from the Lookmark blog, with apologies to the family member whose Facebook update I single out in this post. If you want to skip ahead, just sign up for Lookmark and tell me what you think.]
When I first joined Facebook, I updated my status and added photos often. It was a place for me and my actual friends to have actual conversations—a welcome change from Myspace, which had been filled with animated GIFs and lots of quote-unquote “friends.”
Five years later, I barely update my Facebook at all—maybe once or twice a month. When this update from a family member appeared in my News Feed a few months ago, I knew my relationship to Facebook had changed permanently:
Facebook has achieved their goal of building the best social graph on the Web. And that’s why I stopped updating—every single update is shared to 700 current friends, former friends, random people from high school, coworkers and former coworkers, professional contacts, immediate family, not-so-immediate-family, and randoms. Each update now forms a piece of our Timeline, to chronicle all of our life events for posterity.
I stopped sharing because I don’t want every link I share to be permanently archived and viewed by any of my friends and family, or the HR department for my next job, or my future kids (if Facebook is still relevant by the time they’re old enough to use their iPhone 19).
This is exactly the problem that startups like Path are trying to solve. Path is meant to be a new, virgin territory—a place for your real friends and family. It’s also the reason that I will never use Facebook Social Reader apps, like the Washington Post app, which automatically share all articles you read to your Timeline. I don’t want to share every article with my 700 friends, and I don’t want to permanently, publicly archive it on my Timeline. And I don’t want to see every article my 700 friends read, either.
Automatic sharing can be very compelling, though. When Last.fm launched (way back in 2002!) it was one of the first services to take advantage of automatic sharing—by simply installing the AudioScrobbler plugin, you could share everything you played in iTunes, automatically.
While brainstorming ideas for new apps, I thought: “What about a Last.fm for news, a browser plugin that shares what you read automatically?” I built a prototype of the concept in a few days back in April to test the concept. When I showed it to my cofounders, we all agreed that it was very compelling, even with a total of 3 people using it—so we’ve spent the last few months building and refining the product. We call it Lookmark.
Lookmark is a Chrome extension that automatically and privately shares what you’re reading from sites you choose (like the New York Times or links from Hacker News) with the friends you choose. Lookmark solves many of Facebook’s sharing problems because we designed from the ground up it for private sharing with a small group of close friends. It’s become an addictive source of news and conversation over the past few months—and we’re just getting started.