Hands-on with Fatdoor: geoSocial networking
Social networking for your neighborhood.
Fatdoor is an upcoming social network that's all about location. Instead of creating your network of friends based on interests or real-life relationships, the creators of Fatdoor want you to use the service to get a better feel for your neighborhood and what's going on around you.
The system works by slurping in local business and residential listings, and placing them on a Microsoft Virtual Earth map. While the businesses get pinpoint-accuracy, residential listings are clumped together in a general area, until users decide to claim the house or building as their own. Each user gets their own profile where they can list their interests, both generally and with regard to things in and around the neighborhood.
One of the key uses of Fatdoor is interacting with local businesses. The service aggregates reviews of local establishments from several services, including Yelp, so you can browse through reviews and leave your own. Here's where things get a little tricky--users of these other sites won't be able to see your comments. In fact, only other Fatdoor users will be able to see your take. The system works a little bit like coComment, which Webware reviewed last month.
In addition to restaurant reviews, Fatdoor has built in its own services, like an events planner, local interest groups, and driving directions. Some of the services, like the local events listings, are aggregated from third-party services, but the rest are built in-house and fed by Fatdoor members.
To keep track of all this activity, Fatdoor's welcome page has a series of activity feeds on it, listing the most recent groups and events. It feels a little bit like Facebook, albeit a little less comprehensive. Users also get their own wall to put up notices, called "shout outs," which can double as discussion threads.
Short of block parties--and friendly knocks to tell people to turn down their subwoofers--it's definitely not easy to meet your neighbors. Fatdoor is a very ambitious service that's trying to solve that, albeit using the Internet. Creator Raj Abhyanker explained to me that he knows the barrier to entry is high, since users need to be real people with a real address, but he thinks they can gain a lot more out of a social network if it's local and "face to face." The service is still a couple of months from making its launch; look for it near the end of summer.