The emergence of mobile device checkin activity is creating a wealth of information about the real world. However, successfully finding and effectively using opinions provided by people you trust on your social graph can be a challenge. Springpad, the maker of personal task management products and Springpad API that help users organize their digital lives, is releasing a new feature called Friends Stuff that aims to help you get the most out of the recommendations buried in your online social network.
Although reviews on sites like Yelp and Amazon are sometimes helpful, it is not always clear who we can trust. What’s more, even if they are honest, the opinions of the set of all online reviews in the world are subjective and don’t necessarily take your tastes into account. Services like Foursquare and Facebook’s Places are soliciting reviews and location information from people in our personal networks, but the focus is still on collecting data for advertisements and geo aware coupon monetization and not on how the information benefits a majority of users today. For the average person, making use of friends’ Likes and Places activity beyond the short-lived period of time when a review is first posted is extremely difficult. An ephemeral post about “the city’s best ice cream” six months ago does very little to help us get answers to queries like, “where do my friends go for ice cream and why?”.
Starting with the initial Facebook integration, Springpad is launching Friends Stuff as an interface for making sense of and getting value from review data that your friends contribute in your social web. Springpad uses algorithms in its core, notebook product that automatically categorize user entries into actionable to-do list and calendar items that include helpful information from aggregated online sources. With Friends Stuff, a similar strategy is used. Reviews provided by your friends are gathered from social network APIs and combined with other applicable data with the goal of corralling all of the information required to make a “go / no go” decision about a place or event. For example, if you are wondering if you should bother going to that summer blockbuster movie everyone was talking about five weeks ago, Friends Stuff will provide you with your friends’ opinions about the film in addition to show times, ticket prices and theatre locations.
Of course, the crux of a product like Friends Stuff is the content. And, in this case, the content is provided (or not) by your personal friends and associates. Springpad and related products like Flipboard and Gogobot are testing the hypothesis that the opinions and posts provided by people you know are more useful, valuable, and safer than those provided by the crowd.