One of my favorite things about having worked on Silicon Florist for more than two years is watching the progress people are making. And watching how things change. I’ve been lucky enough to watch ideas, events, and companies come and go—and I’ve had the chance to document their stories. It’s never something I intended to do. It just kind of happened.
Sometimes those stories are happy. Sometimes they’re not. But they’re always good stories. The latest story I’ve had the pleasure of documenting as it went full circle? The story of Shizzow. Read More
If only AT&T had performed as flawlessly, Shizzow would have been invaluable at SXSW. Unfortunately, with the Edge network cratering under the sheer girth of iPhone traffic in Austin, neither Shizzow nor Twitter managed to live up to their potential.
But now that we’re back in the land of the speedy connections, Shizzow will no doubt shine. And since many of us monitor Twitter far more than we monitor Shizzow, maybe just maybe we’ll have some more of those chance meetings that Shizzow was designed to facilitate.
Today we are announcing the public launch of Shizzow, a location-based friend finder where you can declare your location, and it will notify all of your friends so that they may come join you for a drink or a cup of coffee. Shizzow has been in private beta since August 2008 with invites open only to a limited number of people in Oregon, California, and Washington. Anyone in the United States can now sign up for Shizzow with no invite required.
Why now? Shizzow has big plans for SXSW—the annual geek get together in Austin, Texas—where people are constantly trying to figure out “Where the heck are you?”
You may remember that Twitter took off at SXSW in 2007 by helping people find one another. Since then, everyone has had aspirations of recreating that magic. Shizzow has a good chance to do so, given that it’s even better suited for that “Where the heck are you?” task. Plus, they’re promising some features specifically targeted at the SXSW crowd.
Here’s a look at some of the apps that have already taken advantage of the API:
IceCondor is an android application that allows you to follow people and events in real-time. IceCondor takes advantage of map coordinates embedded in RSS feeds (called GeoRSS feeds) and allows them to appear as red markers on googlemaps. IceCondor works with multiple services including Brightkite, Shizzow, and Upcoming.org. Built by @donpdonp.
Shizzeeps.com shows you which shizzow users (known as shizzeeps) are congregating where at the moment. It also allows you to see their shout messages, and even send your own ephemeral message to the group at a particular place. Shizzeeps also offers a Twitter service: follow @shizzeeps to get updates every 15 minutes. Built by @crunchysue.
An iPhone client with list and map views of people and places, detection of nearby places to shout from, ability to auto-shout, and more. You currently need to build the Shizzup client from the source code to use it. Built by @wajiii.
A simple Shizzow application for Android to quickly find out where your friends are, or find out who’s nearby and listen to them. See their locations on a map, or their recent shout history. Browse nearby places, search for places by name and tag, add to your favorites, and shout from them. Automatically detect your location using GPS/wifi, or manually set it on a map for finer control. You currently need to build the f’shizzow client from the source code to use it. Built by @petercowan.
Baken is an Android (and iPhone, eventually) app that automatically finds nearby locations from Shizzow’s database. It also provides much of the functionality found on m.shizzow.com. Matt also has plans to take the app in new directions in the near future. Built by @mattg.
Exciting times for the bootstrapped Portland startup. Here’s hoping they continue to soar. And I’ll be sure to report on how they’re received by the crowd down at SXSW.
Portland-based Shizzow—the service designed to help you find and meet up with friends as quickly and easily as possible—has had a good run in the Portland area. But now, they’re feeling the need to stretch their horizons a bit.
Now, granted, our friends to the south get to test this kind of thing more often than most. Why should they take a look at Shizzow? According to the folks at Shizzow—arguably the best ones to respond—there are a number of reasons their service is different.
But the one that strikes me—an active Shizzow user—as the most poignant is this one:
We developed Shizzow to solve a specific need: the desire to find our friends and hang out with them. The other services had so much clutter that we weren’t able to effectively solve our need using any of the existing location-based applications.
If you’re in the Silicon Forest and haven’t had a chance to try Shizzow yet, drop a comment below and I’ll get you on board. Same goes for our Shizzow neighbors in the Silicon Valley. Or you can always go straight to the source.
Our favorite local location-based social networking service, Portland-based Shizzow, has had great uptake around the local area. And with good reason. It’s a really simple and effective way to keep tabs on who is where when.
But one thing has been holding it back for some folks: the fact that you’ve had to use a mobile Web browser to update your Shizzow location.
Well, not for much longer, my friend. Because Shizzow just announced a beta release that enables you to shout updates via SMS:
We’ve tested it as much as we can, but we need for you to try it out and let us know if you find any issues or have suggestions for how we can make it better. Until I perfect that mind reading device I’ve been working on in my garage, we can’t fix the bugs that you forget to tell us about! Log all of your suggestions on our Get Satisfaction page.
Sharing information about your current location with people you trust has always held this glimmer of potential. The glimmer of actually finding the time to meet face-to-face during our ever increasingly busy schedules. The glimmer of that impromptu meetup with people whom you would like to get to know better.
To date, that potential has always remained a glimmer.
The reality? That’s been slightly less beneficial. Reality has tended to be a useless stream of updates, declaring your friends are “in Portland, Oregon” or, worse yet, at some random address that holds little to no meaning.
Shizzow provides the technology for you to notify your friends of your location, with as little effort as possible, so you can spend more time hanging out with your peeps and less time trying to coordinate bringing them together through phone, email, SMS and IM.
I hear you. “Another one?” But hold your horses. I think Shizzow’s got a number of things going for it. And, as far as Portland goes? I think Shizzow has nailed it.
First and foremost, Shizzow is for Portland, Oregon. And only Portland, Oregon. Not the world. Not the Northwest. Portland. And that’s it. Shizzow isn’t about the video-game mentality of adding as many followers as possible—followers you may never ever meet in person. Shizzow is about knowing where your friends in Portland are. So that you can meet them, face-to-face, when those opportunities avail themselves.
Simple and local. By Portland, for Portland. And in my book, that’s huge.
Second, Shizzow is designed to understand where you are—and to tell people where you are—as simply and easily as possible. And I’ve been duly impressed by how hard they’ve worked to make sure that the database of locations is as deep and intuitive as possible.
Why is that important? Two reasons:
No more (or far less) “Please enter the address of your location.” When you “shout” with Shizzow, you just need to know the name of the Portland place in which you’re currently standing. Not the address. Not the GPS coordinates. The name of the place. Easy.
I know places better than addresses. When I’m reading the shouts of my Shizzow friends, it’s a lot (a lot!) easier for me to process “EcoTrust Building” than it is for me to process “721 NW 9th Avenue Portland, OR 97209.” That means, that I’m more likely to go meet my friends or plan my trips accordingly.
Sounds good, huh? I know! So let’s get you involved in this private beta.
Right now, the beta invites are limited to a couple hundred people living in Portland. I’ll be sending out invites today along with the rest of the team.
Even now, I’m already happily getting a flood of new friends (thank you!), so I know the Portland gang is getting involved. I can’t wait to see how this works once we get big group shouting.
A true side project to startup story
And the final reason that I’m so happy for these guys? They’ve truly made the leap from side project to startup:
Each member of the Shizzow crew has a full-time job outside of Shizzow, and it’s taken a ton of sweat equity and sleep-deprived nights to bring Shizzow to fruition. But because we’ve believed in our vision and believed in the idea of bringing friends and like-minded people together, the sacrifices we’ve made have not seemed like work but instead like… something we simply had to do. And now, 10 months and tens of thousands of lines of code later, we’re ready…
I can’t really put into words how proud I am of these guys. And how excited I am to get everyone in Portland on this service.
That said, what if you don’t happen to make the initial round of invites? Fear not, gentle reader. There’s still another way to get into shouting with Shizzow. As Dawn says:
If you want an invite, and don’t hear from me today, you can get one from me at Lunch 2.0 on Wednesday.
That’s right! Shizzow will be the guest of honor at the Silicon Florist’s Portland Lunch 2.0, this Wednesday. So come on down to CubeSpace, grab some lunch, meet some people face-to-face, and get signed up with Shizzow, so that you can continue those discussions—and continue getting to know your Portland peers.
In any case, I’m really, really looking forward to all the shouts from CubeSpace, this Wednesday. And to running into you in person—thanks to Shizzow—in the near future.
Shizzow is a location-driven social networking service that encourages quality relationships via face-to-face interaction. Dig in at http://shizzow.com . For more information on the launch and Shizzow’s story, see the Shizzow blog.
Forgive me, if you will, a brief derailment before I get to the news… Maybe it’s because this post is about sharing content that sparked this. But, remember those days—often too long ago—when I used to write about local products and companies that no one was talking about, yet? I mean, rather than talking about things about which you’d already heard? Read More
Remember a few weeks ago? No. I mean really. Do you remember a few weeks ago? Good. Because I have a hard time remembering that far back sometimes.
Anyway, remember a few weeks about when “Shit [whomever] says” was blowing up as a meme on the Web? Well, in the midst of a meme-fever, it seemed a sure thing that the world needed “Shit Silicon Forest startups say.” Read More
Sometimes, there is a better wheel. Sometimes, a market has an 800 lbs gorilla that could use a little toppling. And yes, sometimes, I use inane marketing drivel when I can’t think of any better way to get into an article.
But see? Now we’ve made it through the intro. So I can tell you about PingGadget, a new Portland startup that’s looking to take the best of Twitter’s short format and combine it with Foursquare-esque location information to deliver a new microblogging platform. Read More