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Proust social network helps you tell your life's story

A new social network dubbed Proust coaxes you to share details about your life by recounting certain memories and asking family and friends what they think about you.

Lance Whitney/CNET

One of the latest social networks to hit the Web is more interested in what you've done in the past than in what you're doing now.

Proust, named after the 19th century French writer Marcel Proust, is a unique type of social network that tries to get you to delve into your past by prompting you to recount certain memories and experiences. The site helps you create your online profile by asking a series of questions such as "Who was your first kiss?" "Who was your best friend growing up?" and "What was your biggest fear as a child?"

Beyond getting you to remember your past, Proust also offers several categories of questions designed to elicit your feelings and beliefs about your life in general and different topics more specifically. "If your pet could talk, what would it say about you?" "When you pray, what do you pray for?" and "What do you do when nobody happens to be watching?" are just a few of the questions designed to get you to think about yourself to build your profile.

You can choose the questions you want to answer and bypass other, perhaps more embarrassing, ones. You can also post photos and tagged maps to accompany and flesh out your answers and stories. And with privacy always a concern, your answers can be made public, private, or shared with just certain family and friends.

Beyond answering questions, you can send questions about yourself to your parents, children, spouse, friends, and other people in your life to learn their impressions of you. You can choose from questions created by example, asking your parents which of your childhood friends they couldn't stand or asking your spouse what the best thing is about being married. Or you can make up your own questions. Via the site, you can then e-mail those questions to family and friends and add their responses to your profile, if you wish.

In essence, you can tell and share your life's story, as much or as little as you wish, and use the site as a way to capture memories both for yourself and your loved ones. After you've created your profile, you and the people you choose can then view it as a timeline to see key moments in your life as you've grown, or read it in more of a storybook format.

Why is the site named after the famous author Proust? According to the site's press release (PDF), "Marcel Proust is popularly associated with the 'Proust Questionnaire.' In his famous novel ["Remembrance of Things Past" aka "In Search of Lost Time"], the adult Proust describes biting into a Madeleine cookie and it bringing on a rush of childhood memories. Through writing prompts, is designed to act as that proverbial Madeleine and help unlock your memories."