If Memory Serves

30 04 2012

In many regards, it is 1999 all over again. Or maybe 1849. There’s another gold rush going on, only this time it does not involve real gold, nor does it involve e-commerce site. And while some might argue that it’s really all just about fool’s gold, let me remind you that Facebook paid a cool billion dollars for Instagram a couple of weeks ago.

Yeah, I keep bringing that up a lot lately. There must be a reason.

My curiosity was piqued when I read over the weekend about Remember.com, a startup that focuses on crowdsourced memories. The idea is for users to submit their own memories about persons, events, places, etc., and in the process create a commons of perspectives and shared experiences.

I like the idea.

It’s not like the Indiana duo behind Remember.com hasn’t…um…had some forgettable experiences along the way. Like when they had this great idea to use a timeline of sorts to organize and help chronicle these things. Facebook kind of stole that thunder when it gave everyone a Timeline.

Remember.com may also suffer from people not being able to wrap their minds around it. In some regards, it sounds like a gentler more conversational Wikipedia. But it is more than this, because many of the contributors may in fact know one another. But then, even though the experience was shared, you may not know a soul out there.

I can see this online repository of memories to elicit great outpourings of content, be it text, pics or video. To be sure, these experiences may wind up being very esoteric and narrow in focus (like the graduating class at a particular school). But then again, it could also be downright cathartic for millions. Think about the possibilities if we had this site right after 9-1-1.

At present, the site is in beta, and is limited to the founders’ alma mater, De Pauw University in Greencastle Indiana, but anyone can join. But getting traction with it is one of those fax machine dilemmas. The guy who owned the first one could not reap any value until there were others with similar machines. Otherwise, it’ll kind of be like talking to yourself.

Still, I am bullish on this idea. Sure, we probably could engineer the current Facebook for similar purposes, but it would likely be limited to just a private group or page, but not with as much visual impact. And that is why I do like Remember.com, because it has potential to be an acquisition by someone, be it FB, Google, Apple, etc.

Which is another way of saying that, just because the semester is drawing to a close, there’s no reason my students should put away their thinking caps. As Remember’s founder noted, once they get the content part figured out, then commerce will follow.

Or a buy out (my two cents). Wouldn’t you love to be there for that party? I bet you’d remember that.

Dr “And Don’t You Forget It!” Gerlich


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