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Friday, January 06, 2012

Life Is All About Experiences!

9:58 AM Posted by Deepak Nayal , No comments
Life is full of experiences - walk in the park with your friends, visit to an art gallery, weekend in the countryside or a shopping day out. These experiences can be an hour long, a day, a week or even a month (lucky you!). They can be free or very expensive. Some of them are good and others we won't really miss. It is these experiences, small or big, that make our life worth living. 


Given the importance of experiences in our lives, the importance of a service that helps people with saving, sharing and discovering experiences cannot be overstated. Social networks, especially Facebook, are big on this and currently are the primary service used by people to save, share and discover experiences. The problem, however, with using social networks for this purpose is that such services work on experiences in a very unstructured and broken manner. They break the experience into individual entities (status updates or photos or videos) instead of working on them as a collage. This diminishes the beauty and story of these experiences. Facebook Timeline is a step by the social networking giant towards putting together these individual shared entities as a stream of activities and experiences, connecting them. However, it still does not do justice to the story behind these experiences. 

There is another set of applications, apart from social networks, that are working on experiences. Services such as SideTour, Vayable, MyGuidie and Virgin Experience Days help people and companies to sell and discover experiences. The problem I find with this set is that they focus on the commercial side of experiences. And in addition to that, they do not allow people to save and share their own. Finally, as with the social networks, these do not do justice to the story behind the experiences as well. 

So lets see, what features should a good experiences service have - 
  • Allow people to create storyboards or collages for each experience - A good experiences service will consider them as a whole instead of looking at individual items. An experience includes many things - the place(s) you went to, the amount of time and money you spent, the moments you spent, the photos and videos you took and the things you did. You should be able to put these things together so that it becomes a collage/storyboard, tells a story and captures those moments as closely as possible. On the other hand, some experiences might not be a collage/storyboard but a point in time (such as playing Wii with your partner). The key in all this is that the user should be able to digitize his or her experience with minimum effort and should always end up with a beautiful outcome. 
  • Allow people to share these experiences - Once you have created these collages, you should be able to save them only for your own eyes or even share them, which can be done either online and offline. For online, the people you want to share it with should be able to view these experiences on the internet. For offline, you should be able to print these out and share them as an album.
  • Allow people to discover experiences for their own - The experiences that you save should help others discover more. While you might choose to not make your experience public, the information on location, money, time and rating can be aggregated across many experiences and presented to people who can then have better information that can help them choose an experience. This will help them live a better experience. 

While this new service can help people share and discover their experiences, it does not have to compete with the social networks. In fact, it can use these networks as the underlying infrastructure for sharing and discovering. While people are the focus of social networks, experiences will be the focus of this new service. This difference in underlying structure of social networks and experience service can help both types of applications to compliment each other. 

Life is all about experiences. For now these experiences stay in our thoughts or cameras or laptops or online photos. The need to consolidate these experiences has always been there. While we have had solutions to work around these needs, we are still missing a service to put it all together and showcase it in a beautiful and coherent manner.


[Photo from createyourlifestory.com]

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