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7/17/2006
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Review: Radar.net

Radar.net is the antithesis of most photo-sharing sites. It shows your pictures only to those you invite to see them. Call it anti-social networking.

The world of social networking has brought a lot of advanced, but easy to use, imaging applications. Flickr, MySpace, and the myriad photo-sharing sites are great for letting the world see your pictures. The assumption is that someone out there cares and will pass your link along to others. Radar.net is the antithesis of these sites. It shows your pictures only to those you invite to see them. Call it anti-social networking.

It's cool to have thousands, or even millions of people looking at your photos and commenting on them, but the reality is that only a very few image bloggers have that kind of audience. Your audience is most likely made up of people you already know and who care about what you are doing. Radar.net plays off your existing relationships and lets you send your pictures to your private Radar.net site, where friends can comment on them and upload their own pictures.

Radar.net works with any image, but is optimized for use with cell phones. Operation is simple. Just e-mail your pictures to your private e-mail address provided free by Radar. Your subject line becomes the picture's comment. The images I posted to the site appeared within just a couple minutes and were listed in chronological order (newest first).

There is no direct upload function on the web site. The only way to add pictures to the site is by e-mail, which is the preferred method for adding pictures from a cell phone. I was also able to add multiple pictures by attaching several image files to an e-mail from my desktop.

You can access your pictures from any browser, either on a PC or cell phone. Radar is targeted at the mass market rather than the high end. I tried using its Java based application on my Windows Mobile 5 phone without success. But the browser based version worked just fine, allowing me to view previews and larger images, then make comments on them using the phone.

Even though your viewing audience is limited to those you have invited, you can further limit viewing by toggling individual images and viewers so that your visitors can have virtual private galleries of your pictures.

One of Radar's main features is to allow commenting and your pictures. Anyone who is able to view an image is able to also view its comments and to add their own comments. The site owner can delete comments if necessary.

Radar is useable and should be able to create micro-communities that can share each others' lives in near-real-time. The privacy and commenting functions are easy to use but I would like to see the ability to further segment my invitees into exclusive groups so that groups might not be able to see members of other groups.

The teen and college age group are likely to latch on to Radar after just a few days sharing pictures and comments. The system is not intended as a corporate application. Using Radar is free during its beta period, but even when launched pricing is intended to be low to appeal to its audience.

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