Attendi Adds Chat To Social Search
At www.attendi.com, users type their query into the search bar and get a list of members who have commented on that particular subject--complete with profile info, a tag cloud that lists other subjects they've logged conversations about, and an icon noting their online or offline status.
All users can click through to the profile and read through the member's Attendi posts and conversations, as well as links to their off-site blogs and other articles. But community members have the added option of chatting directly with the person if they're online--a dialogue that, according to founder Drew Rayman, has the potential to better answer specific questions than standard search results.
Attendi is the brainchild of Rayman and CTO Benny Simon, two industry vets currently serving in leadership roles at full-service interactive agency i33 Communications.
While there is a designated space for AdSense ads alongside the first page of search results, Simon and Rayman said that the company is more focused on building the community and creating a trove of new, searchable information.
"Right now, these contextual ads will monetize what we're doing," said Rayman, "but the focus is not about finding unique ways to monetize. The goal is to have Attendi become the largest database of human insight in the world--a way to inject a little color into traditional search."
Members will have the option to advertise their own services within Attendi in the future as well. So if a motorcycle enthusiast has a shop, for example, "they could purchase the keyword 'Harley' and have a custom ad unit that shows up in the search results," said Simon--much like the sponsored search links at the traditional search engines. Simon added that there are also plans to serve Attendi as a white-label interactive community database for companies.
According to Simon, the difference between Attendi and Spock, PeekYou or other social search engines is that the new service doesn't draw from the same "well of documents" that most engines do--including Google and Yahoo.
Attendi users create new content and provide each other with valuable information with every conversation--and the site's crawler (built on the Java-based Lucene search protocol) indexes that content to give searchers the most relevant results.
The Attendi service seems a bit like Yahoo Answers, with some features of LinkedIn and Wikipedia bundled in--but the real-time chat factor is what really separates it from other Web 2.0 social networks, according to Simon. The chat window opens up automatically, with no applications or software to download--and members have a clear warning that what they say will be logged:
"Don't forget that conversations on Attendi are public and will automatically be added to your profile. Enjoy!"
The service currently has options to flag conversations as mature or to alert administrators to disruptive or malicious behavior, and Simon said that there are plans to use extensive member feedback in the months following the launch to decide what tweaks are necessary for content monitoring and other features.
Attendi's platform is open source, so developers can come in and build widgets, as well as link the service to established tools like AIM or Windows Live Messenger.