Oct 22 2010
Just the other day I was having dinner with old neighbors. They know me as the resident computer guy, knowledgeable in all things technical. Whether this is the case or not doesn’t really matter. They look to me to provide insight on anything from remote controls to setting up wifi networks. This particular time the question arose regarding friends on Facebook. One lady had received numerous friend requests and was deciding whether to join. Two of these were from fierce enemies who have no intention of ever behaving civilly toward each other. Her question was whether it was possible for her to be friends with both these people on Facebook, yet keep them completely separate from each other. My answer was maybe the settings can be configured that way but the system doesn’t lend itself to keeping your social circles separate. She quickly decided not to join to avoid any conflicts.
The reality is online social networks place all your friends on an equal plane. Whether it’s someone you just met at the bar to someone you go way back with, a friend request is a friend request. Less technical users aren’t as adept at figuring out how to customize their privacy settings. One buddy of mine solved the issue by not letting anybody write on his wall. This kept his less savory friends from scaring off the innocent souls he knew in other circles. It also negated the original purpose of the social network.
Zenergo is a new website that provides a social network that mirrors our real world social circles. It’s an activities based social network that connects people based upon common interests and locale. Each of these connections can be as public or private as you would like. Just like real life.
The core of Zenergo is its activities. You can choose from over 300 preconfigured activities to connect with others. These range from tennis to wine tasting, dating, to a personal favorite- quilting. Once you pick an activity you can invite friends, start groups, plan events, and even create sub groups. Each one of these gives the user multiple levels of privacy. They can declare their tennis group to the world or keep it within a few friends. If they like they can set up a separate subgroup for their tennis friends that play with on Saturday mornings.
As would be expected each user is given a profile page. It includes some general information, private and public messaging, and photos. Each group, event, and activity also have separate profile pages so that the communications stay within that circle. You’re able to use different profile pics if you choose as well. So for you dancing friends you can upload pictures of the ballroom. For golf friends you can upload photos of you taking a nap. (Golf is really only so interesting.) A full list of sections within an Activity include the profile, news, inbox, photos, groups, friends and a search tool.
Beyond keying in on privacy, Zenergo picked up on one other major shortcoming of existing social networks. Location. It’s great to meet friends all over the world. I like the fact that I can send pictures and messages to people thousands of miles away. But when it comes down to it, sometimes it’s best for us to get off the computer and experience meaningful social engagement. Part of the profile is to enter your location. When searching for tennis buddies, or anyone else for that matter, you can readily see how many miles apart you are.
The service is available for both individual users as well as larger organizations. Non profits or any association or organization would find the group and event planning features useful. Currently all services are free.
Zenergo is a social network that fits our natural social habits. For every activity we’re involved in it allows us to set up friend networks as they are in real life. It also allows you to meet new people locally who share common interests. In a world where too many people are feeling disconnected, Zenergo does its part to bring them back together.