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“Liking” an item on a social network is all the rage right now. You can do it on FriendFeed, you can do it on Twitter (though it’s technically called “favoriting” a tweet) and you can even do it on Facebook now. It works because the concept is so simple: If you like something, click a button to mark that you do. You don’t have to say anything or do anything else. It’s a trend that the new service Likaholix is hoping to take to the next level.
Started by two former Googlers (Bindu Reddy was a group product manager at Google and Arvind Sundararajan was a senior staff engineer), Likaholix is as simple as typing something into its search bar that you like and clicking a button to confirm that you like it. If you want, you can give a reason for liking it as well, but that’s not required. For example, I just got done watching an episode of the Fox TV show 24. I like this season again (after a few lackluster ones), so I decided to like it on Likaholix. Any user can now visit my “like” page for this and leave comments on the item, similar to how you can on FriendFeed items.
From my “like” page on 24, you can also see others who have liked the show and read the comments on their entries. On this page you can also find related items to the show. And that’s one of the keys to Likaholix: It hopes to take the action of users “liking” something and turn it into data for recommending something else you might like.
The database of stuff you can like is impressive. I was able to find a very obscure movie I own, For Y’ur Height Only, and like it on the service. It found it because Likaholix crawls many of the large online sites such as Wikipedia, Amazon and IMDB. It also crawls for images as well, to add some flare to your liked items.
And if there’s something out there on the web that Likaholix can’t find, you can use the bookmarklet to tag it onto the site yourself.
You can also like people on Likaholix. Basically, it’s the same as friending someone on other social networks, but it can be asynchronous, meaning that you can like someone without them liking you back. This liking of other people is important to the service as well because it leads to better recommendations.
“We have found that recommendations from friends, whose tastes you trust are usually much better than most reviews on the web,” the company writes on its About page.
If you like enough of something in a particular topic, you can also become a “Tastemaker” in that topic. This label will get you more exposure for listings in that topic, but you need to like at least 10 items in that topic to qualify, and you can only be a Tastemaker in 2 topics.
Likaholix is an interesting service because it’s so simple. Like Twitter and FriendFeed before it, there isn’t a large barrier to entry; you can easily jump in and get started with it. Depending on how well the recommendation engine works, the site could actually be quite useful for things such as entertainment (movie, book, TV show, etc) recommendations.
The service is wrapping up initial alpha testing and opening up a bit more in private beta testing today. They were kind enough to give us 200 beta invites to share with VentureBeat readers — if you’re interested in checking it out, follow this link.
On top of that, Likaholix is holding a competition for the most active/popular/interesting “My likes” pages on the site. Judging it will be two other former Googlers, Paul Buchheit (co-founder of FriendFeed) and Jason Shellen (founder of Plinky). Three winners will receive Amazon Kindles, while another three will get Nintendo Wiis (both, undoubtedly popular liked items on the site).
When you first sign up for the service, you’re going to want to find friends who can serve up recommendations to you. You can easily import contacts from either Gmail or Facebook to help this process along. Once you’re on the service, you can share your likes on Facebook, Twitter or FriendFeed as well.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
Chime in here, and we’ll share the results