Out With The Dodgeball, In With The Brightkite

While I have been a faithful Dodgeball user for over 4 years, it’s not been a service that has been taking strides to make me love it. The site exists now almost exactly as it did back then, save using Google Accounts after they were bought out in the spring of 2005. While it remains functional, it has been losing mindshare in the face of stiff competition. Yelp does reviews better; Twitter does messaging between friends better; Facebook handles connections between friends better.
The only place Dodgeball still had a hold on me is for checking in; announcing to your friends where you were.

That was until I saw this demo of the Brightkite iPhone application:

Brightkite for the iPhone from Brightkite on Vimeo.

I’ve been tangentially aware of Brightkite through their Twitter integration, but between the app and the service, any use I had for Dodgeball is essentially gone:

  • While Dodgeball was limited to 22 cities, Brightkite is US-wide. Ironically, this is because Brightkite leverages the Google Maps API – something that Google has failed to do with their own service.
  • Dodgeball is all-or-nothing with location data, while Brightkite has tiered access so that not all of your friends – or the world – get your precise location data.
  • Brightkite integrates with Twitter and FireEagle; Dodgeball essentially silos your data.

Consider Dodgeball’s coffin nailed shut. is the sort of app I’ve been waiting for since the iPhone SDK was first announced. is available now.


Social Network De-evolution

The first social network to rise to any degree of prominence was [Friendster]( Friendster allows you to punch in a bunch of your interests, link to other friends, pull in your blog posts, share photos, etc.

Then came [Orkut]( Orkut grew quickly because of it’s exclusive “you have to be invited in” rules, but then quickly burned out as everyone went to [MySpace]( MySpace was – and is – ugly as sin, horribly non-functional, and generally is a contradiction of all that had gone to move the web forward since its inception. This, somehow, made it immensely popular.

Since MySpace has become the unstoppable force in the “this is all of who I am” space, recent social networks have forced you to specialize. Music users can plug in to [lastfm]( or [iLike](]; people looking for business connections can network on [LinkedIn]( [Flickr]( can act as a glorified social network for photographers. And so on.

Meanwhile, activity-based social networks sprang up. [Dodgeball]( broadcasts your location to your friends. [Upcoming]( lets you plan events – Evite on steroids.

The many splinter social networks are interesting, because each one limits your scope. I can’t find my friends who aren’t into digital photography on Flickr. I’m not going to link up with people outside of NYC on Dodgeball. Each network becomes more insular, more specialized.

And so now we reach [Twitter]( Twitter is, as best I can tell, the exact reverse of the original sorts of social networks – your profile is meager, your interests unimportant. Twitter allows you to bomb your friends with updates about what you’re doing in 145 character or less – like Dodgeball, only without the locations. Or neighborhood detection.

I’ve been using it a bit more today after signing up last month – and while Twitterific is a nice client, I’m still trying to get the appeal. It’s certainly an interesting sort of party-line chat that doesn’t require you to be constantly signed in, but there’s something I’m not quite catching. Maybe it’s because after two years on Dodgeball, I know that most people aren’t using the chat functions.

My profiles for all the sites mentioned above: [Friendster]( – [MySpace]( – []( – [iLike]( – [LinkedIn]( � [Flickr]( � [Dodgeball]( � [Upcoming]( � [Twitter](