Sponit is a sort of alternative blogging site started by a trio of UC Berkeley college students. Its aim is to let people share “stories and photos or completely crazy things that are happening around town.”
We first heard about Sponit back in December, but it was buggy and in closed beta. We’ve been trading emails with one of the creators, Darian Shirazi, ever since. The site is open now, and he says it’s worked through its initial issues.
We asked Shirazi, to explain what he and co-creators David McIntosh and Max Crane want to accomplish with the site. The Q&A is here:
SiliconBeat: Tell us about Sponit.
Shirazi: The idea is meant to feed into the desires of most people which is, I think, to share their personal stories and to view what other people are doing in other parts of the world. The dream of mine that has been realized recently is that people who post about their New Years’ celebrations in Italy are receiving comments by people in Hong Kong. Storytelling is a central part to human culture and while this sounds rather corny, storytelling has brought us elaborate stories like the Odyssey and the Iliad and allow us to understand why people do the things they do.
The idea is simple: post a story, gain maximum visitation and feedback. Currently, blogging has many problems attached to it: (a) how to drive traffic (b) daily updates to keep traffic (c) consistency of quality (d) an amount of web experience. sponit solves all four of these problems for web gurus and for amateurs.
I’m not sure if you checked out “the hub” feature which aggregates discussions, tags, and posts into a central location. This allows people to see what the sponit network features and what it has to offer.
SB: What do you want to accomplish with it?
Shirazi: My hopes are to bring blogging to the mainstream as much as possible. For the past year, web 2.0 has been designed for the gurus or the web-elite. People who lack the ability to set up their own blog and who don’t have the time are at a loss when it comes to web 2.0. The majority of users on the web have wonderful, interesting, and lively stories to tell but are common AOL and Earthlink users. Not only do I hope sponit will allow these users to enter web 2.0, but I also hope sponit will provide a bridge between the gurus and the amateurs. We’ve already seen this because users are posting their blog links in spon posts and people are linking out of sponit to those blogs.
And of course, it would be nice to generate some revenue :).
SB: Why did you do it?
Shirazi: The web has fascinated me ever since I was able to use a computer. However, I am frustrated by the fact that the web is not simple enough. We (the web community) haven’t normalized the web enough to allow everyone to get on and contribute. The web is another way for individuals to communicate with each other and share their lives. Hindering the ability of everyone to share information by complicating the tool is the antithesis of the internet’s original mission.
SB: Is there a business model of any sort?
Shirazi: It is actually in the works. My friend, a UCSC student, is drafting one. There are many ideas that go along with sponit. I would rather not discuss them because they depend on what the people who actually use sponit want. One I can disclose is that we are planning to categorize information in a specific form that will allow users to still experience random content, but within a realm that pertains to their trends. Also, I want advertising on the site to be NOTHING like Google AdWords. I would actually like it to be personalized advertising, yet not in the traditional sense. I think users would be delighted if they reached a spon post written by Steve Jobs himself explaining the new iPod Video’s features. People are more likely to read information that is written by actual people. While Steve Jobs is not even a possibility for a sponsored post today, its still nice to use it as an example.