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Social Media Hotbed

Kim Hart

I didn't quite know what to expect when I showed up to a networking event put on last night by Mashable, the blog that covers social media, and Ogilvy here in downtown DC. But within five minutes, I was amazed by the number of social media start-ups operating under the radar in the Washington area.

It seems that everyone is looking for ways to make every online interaction more social, even if all you want to do is read the news. Voxant lets you embed premium news videos and other content onto your profile or blog. Kluster uses the crowd-sourcing model to let people collaborate on projects and take an equity stake in what they're working on, so they have the potential of getting a financial reward for their work. Searchles lets you tag and rank sites you like as well as create video mash-ups from sources like YouTube, MySpace and Grouper. Mixx lets you aggregate and rank popular content that matters to you.

And those are just the companies I've heard of before. There were countless other young entrepreneurial types there who are either looking for venture capital funding or have just received a bit of angel investment. Many are still in stealth mode, but they've piqued my interest enough that I'll be keeping tabs on them as they roll out their products in the coming months.

In the meantime, here are a few things I found especially fascinating last night:

--AOL's struggles have apparently been good for the local start-up community. I met several former AOLers last night who are parlaying their Internet experience into interesting ventures. As one former Yahoo executive put it, AOL's a good place to poach for talent.

--Everything, and I mean everything, can be made into a Facebook application. I must admit I already have a hard time figuring out which ones I actually want and which ones would just get in my way while I'm on Facebook. We'll see how long the appetite for an endless supply of quirky applications will last.

--Just about any activity on the Web can be made social, from mapping crime on the streets of Baltimore to turning your buddy list into a virtual alarm clock (yes, a company actually does this--stay tuned to hear more). I understand the value of having input from people you trust when choosing a dentist or working on a project. Bu t aren't there are some things we still like to do without relying on the feedback of others?

But last night, after hearing some of the ideas and meeting the enthusiastic guys behind them, I felt like the only one who isn't sure...

By Kim Hart  |  March 6, 2008; 10:17 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
Previous: A New Face At Facebook | Next: Your Schedule In The Cloud

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