May 20, 2008
“Marky got with Sharon, And Sharon got Sharice, She was sharing Sharon’s outlook, On the topic of disease, Mikey had a facial scar, And Bobby was a racist, They were all in love with dyin, They were doin’ it in Texas’…. You never know just how you look, Through other people’s eyes” Butthole Surfers – Pepper
Psst, let me tell you something. Ready? Well it turns out you are a celebrity. No word of a lie! Ok, alright, lets cut the hyperbole for a sec. Truth is you’re probably not going to be the next Tom Cruise or Hilary Duff, but to a small and trusty circle of friends and family, and perhaps even strangers, you are constantly orbiting around their galaxy of thoughts and every silly, wonderful, magical, little thing you do, say, feel or desire, from tying your shoelaces, to feeling blue, to baking a yummy banana loaf bread, is important to them. It really doesn’t matter what you do or how trivial it may seem to you, but other people who know you deeply want to know EVERYTHING about you.
Call it living vicariously through the lives of others, call it self-indulgent instant gratification tripe for the masses, or call it whatever you want but there’s no denying the fact that the last few years have been the heyday in the emergence and glamourization of microcelebrity culture and user generated content across the web. From Youtube to Myspace, and Photobucket to Imeem, people are sharing all facets of their lives digitally with those around them. Of course, one of the hangups we found with these existing social networks and user generated sites was that they were so, to borrow a corny informercial punchline, ‘Ronco Showtime Rotisseriesque’–ya know, the whole “set it, and forget it!” catchphrase. Nevermind.
To put it more bluntly, we always had a bit of a gripe with the existing patch of social networks on the web. Apart from minor differentiation in geographic, vertical, age-based and socio-economic targeting, they were all rather indistinguishable and chock full of the same hackneyed and static monotony–Users filled out the obligatory profile with the same ole, same ole (favourite music, movies, quotes, relationship status, yada yada), added a requisite number of ‘friends’ they hardly knew, threw up a few pictures, and then twiddled their thumbs waiting for comments and asked themselves “now what”. Is this it? Yes, that really was it. Course once all your friends were on one network, it really became tough to jump ship and find a new home so you stuck around anyway even though you grew restless of it. On the other side of the track, there were those other few artsy kids and girly-girls who maintained their own blogs (ewww blog..what an antiquated and offputting word), y’know the ones. The ones who spent entirely too much time pining endlessly about love forlorn, cutting and pasting catchy song lyrics and movie quotes (yes I realize the irony of mentioning this given the title of this post and the opening line ring back to a famous movie and kitchsy 90s punk song. Boo hoo, sue me.) that rang true, and spewing endlessly about riff-raff that never really mattered anyway. And there you had the two sides of the user generated coin, the social network and the blog: one for your outward persona, a bit too passive while usually broadly accessible, the other more inward focused for a smaller group of more verbose types.
We wanted to try and find a happy medium between the two: between the weighty introspective self-indulgent gratification of blogs and mass-market accessible rah-rah-sis-boom-bah showoffyness of social networks. At the same time, we wanted to try to invent a communication form that hit a sweetspot between the ‘slow as molasses hold your breath and hope for a response’ sluggishness of email and the ‘can’t ignore this $(*#!$!$#’ obligation of responding to always on instant messaging. And after countless weeks and months of burning the midnight oil and endless tinkering and retinkering, we created and launched Plurk. Put simply, Plurk is all about quickly (no deep introspection required!) and easily documenting and sharing with your friends and family all these little itty bitty things that scatter around and clog your brain in a wicked sweet format that makes sense. We call it a social journal for your life. We think it’s pretty rad and we hope you will too.