Social Networking Site Launches Off-The-Shelf SoftwareSocial Networking Site Launches Off-The-Shelf Software
A new off-the-shelf software platform that intends to give companies a way to launch their own social networking community
July 5, 2006
A new off-the-shelf software platform that intends to give companies a way to launch their own social networking community within 30 days will begin shipping in August. The platform will sell under the company name facesinabox.com.
Social networking site DowntownWomensClub.com's founder and CEO Diane Danielson said it will cost about $10,000 to license the new software. The price includes minor customization. There's also a 20 percent fee for maintenance and support, which is being outsourced to an IT company in India. The platform, when released, is a simplified version of DWC Faces, a feature installed last month on DowntownWomensClub.com that profiles the member. Keyword search capabilities let members personalize their profile to help drive Web traffic to promote products and services For businesses, facesinabox.com will help management search on keywords to find the perfect person for the job based on information in the profile. "Maybe your manager is looking for someone who worked at a franchise in China," Danielson said. "That's easy enough to find. It's all right there in your profile." But are job opportunities and personal ties really built in social networks? Absolutely, says Bobby Beck, president and CEO at AnimationMentor.com. The online animation school has invested nearly $1 million to build a social network where students from 37 countries can study character animation along side 54 working artists from Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Feature Animation, Sony, Blue Sky Studios and others. "Funny thing, when we built the school, social networking was one of those things we didn't quite know if it would work," Beck said. "When students come to in-person gatherings from all over the world, like London, Brazil and New York, they meet face-to-face and instantly have a bond." Beck said the connection students build online is real. Forrester Research Inc. Senior Analyst Peter Kim said an online community can't, and shouldn't, replace face-to-face interaction, but rather make personal connections stronger and help employees and management communicate better. "Social networks are another time-shift communication option in a toolkit that includes IM, e-mail, voicemail, and the break-room corkboard," he said. Deploying a social network doesn't work for all businesses or government agencies, however. A social network might not work as well for small-centralized businesses, where the staff is on the same floor or in the same building, or an agency that relies on interpersonal communication or deals with high-confidentiality products and services, Kim said. "I doubt the CIA would want a social network," he said. "More companies, however, will implement social networks as the greater trend of social computing continues to impact society." There are several software companies, such as Spoke Software Inc., Visible Path Corp. and Small World Labs, offer social networking platforms for businesses. Written in PHP 5 scripting language, facesinabox.com runs on Apache 2.x, and MySQL 4.1 database server. Developers built the framework in Agavi and Propel to handle flow and database interactions, respectively. Danielson believes coding and building facesinabox.com in open-source should make the platform compatible with most company networks. Listen to the podcast with Diane Danielson here.
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