Evan Williams and Biz Stone recently left Twitter recently to work with their old buddy Jason Goldman at The Obvious Corporation, a startup incubator that "makes systems that help people work together to improve the world." After tech bloggers spent several weeks trying to figure out exactly what that means, Stone announced its first project on Tuesday: "an interesting new application for unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement" called Lift. While the details of the partnership and Lift itself remain very vague, the basic concept sounds pretty intriguing.
Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb makes some guesses at what Lift will look like based on a previous iteration of the service called Mibbles, "a very simple tracking and encouragement tool." Kirkpatrick explains:
I can imagine the basic outline of the social engineering, if the service that launches looks at all like what's been under development: you're shown a stream of accomplishments by people who have similar goals, you're encouraged to give yourself an award for any accomplishments you're willing to claim publicly - then you get simple positive re-enforcement for those accomplishment.
It appears that the team has been exploring some sorts of aggregate data analysis as well - highlighting the kinds of activities that have been posted most often to the various goal-oriented groups.
So it's a social network based on encouragement? The model actually sounds kind of fascinating, mostly because it sounds like it has great business potential. Unlike Twitter--which has famously struggled to figure out a viable business model--a company that expressly collects peoples goals and desires is an advertiser's dream. Imagine as Kirkpatrick does that there's a group called #Health. A health food or fitness company would probably love to sponsor a rewards system for people who reach their accomplishments. "Goal-oriented groups" also seems like a great target audience. People love self-help and motivation. Remember how much money Rhonda Byrne made selling The Secret?