I have a bit of a problem, which I’d like to talk about.
As a group of individuals and small companies who work however loosely in the creative industries we have literally never been more connected. I keep in touch with all my friends, contemporaries, and people whose work I respect via every possible medium: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on.
Yet the problem is that I have no idea what my contacts have been doing.
The moment, say, Dan Gray mentions he’s designed and is about to print some lovely new posters, it’s likely that the tweet will suddenly disappear in a sea of other links to funny cat videos. Unless Dan continues to talk about his poster series continually for the next week (which as some people on Twitter prove can be incredibly annoying) I’m likely not to know about it.
This is a problem I know other people share, and is something I’ve been trying to solve via a new product which I’m due to launch very shortly.
Let me introduce you to Fiftytwo. It’s a new network for creative professionals, which allows you to share just one piece of content – across five broad categories – per week. You can post a piece of new work, some work in progress, some general news or opinion, a question, or an opportunity (for example, a job opening at your agency, or a call for some help).
By restricting the rate at which content can be shared, the amount of noise you have to wade through to get a sense of what your contacts have been up to over the past few weeks. Hopefully then you can offer help, feedback, or just have an open discussion.
The second major feature of the network is that it is private. I personally baulk at the idea of sharing new work, questions or work in progress with people I don’t know nor trust, but if I knew exactly whom I was sharing the content with I’d feel far more comfortable. Fiftytwo requires you to have bilateral (i.e. Facebook-style) connections, so you know exactly who you’re sharing with. This may be particularly useful for freelancers, who fear sharing work in case their client isn’t happy about it being in the public domain.
Finally, I want Fiftytwo to be a conduit to find and meet talented people and great companies through a formal referral process. For instance, if I know that one of my contacts in my network is looking for a developer or designer, and the ideal person for the job is also in my network, I’d want to introduce them to each other and hopefully instigate a fruitful relationship.
The web app is in an early alpha right now as we iron out some of the major bugs, but I’ll be opening up for beta access soon. Hopefully it’ll be a tool you find useful, and enjoy using. Follow @52network on Twitter to keep up to date.
I should also take this opportunity to thank Cameron Koczon (for being Cameron Koczon), Ben Stott (for the rather lovely identity), Al Monk (for his design input), and Rik Lomas (for parting with his Rails wisdom).