Marc Canter

You may be confused by the launch plans of two very similar social networking services, PeopleAggregator and GoingOn, and it’s not your fault.

They are both platforms that let you create a personal profile and then export that profile to different areas on the Web. They also let you create networks, so if you’re a company you can create a network for your customer group, for example. You can also enter your profile from other accounts; more on that later.

We wrote about GoingOn last year, when it was first proposed; it was supposed to be team effort between to high-profile Silicon Valley guys, publisher Tony Perkins and tech developer veteran Marc Canter. It raised a little funding. It was a fulfillment of Canter’s long-held dream of more openess on the Web.

Tony Perkins

In December, the two camps split. We’ve been touch with both sides lately, and while neither is very happy with the other, they agree on one thing: Marc Canter, who was being paid by Perkins to produce code for the project, differed with the way Perkins was taking the effort. Canter wanted to do a techier platform — one that relied more intensely on the open source community.

Perkins wanted to focus on a corporate network strategy, selling the network to companies, and is raising money to build out his sales force and partner with those companies. Canter’s is more of a grass roots effort; while he is also selling to companies, he’s focusing on letting people customize via open APIs. In recent days, as the project was unveiled, some criticized the site for having an ugly user interface. He counters by saying developers are free to edit it all for their own projects: “Build your own!” he declares.

There is also a healthy debate going on about whether there is a business model behind the effort, or not. Some love the vision, some dismiss it. We shall see.

Canter is not raising venture capital, but is funding the effort with proceeds from his existing consulting business, BroadBand Mechanics. He now has about 12 people, plus a development team in India.

Canter is officially launching PeopleAggregator tomorrow at Gnomedex in Seattle (click on this image, for example of the profile page). Perkins is going to announce GoingOn sometime later (click the second image, below, for example of profile page, this time of Bernard Moon, the guy now leading GoingOn’s tech project).

You can play around with both of them already, even if won’t see their full potential until later. Canter’s still has some bugs in his, and will take shape over years, as he tries to make it compatible with players like Microsoft or MySpace. But it has the basics. You can do things like login to the site with your LiveJournal or Flickr IDs, and he’s working on making many more accounts compatible. You can blog, and select to post it to other blogging accounts.

There is too much here to go into full detail, without treading over territory better covered by others. One place to go is to the Indian development team, Tekrit, which helped developed both projects. They give an overview of each here:

Why is GoingOn special?
Why is PeopleAggregator special?

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