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Zoodango: all too literal social networking

New Zoodango social networking site builds face-to-face meetings
Just what you were looking for: another social networking site! If you've tired of the purely social scene that is Facebook or MySpace, LinkedIn is just too buttoned down for you, and you want your social networking to happen in the real world, then welcome to Zoodango. (Ok, first things first: Zoodango?)

The deal with Zoodango is it will attempt to combine the over-sharing personal elements of MySpace or Facebook ("lifestyle information"), the impressive-credential listing and resume jargon ("professional information") of LinkedIn, and the time-honored coffee-shop get-together. Yes, Zoodango has a fairly novel approach to networking in this modern, detached, online-only age. The founders actually want you to meet people. Like, in person. The site hopes to facilitate face-to-face meetings via local events or by allowing you to send a (shudder) "ZooVite" to an individual so you can get together for coffee. And Zoodango is so insistent on face-to-face meetings that you can't actually add a person as a contact until you've met in person. The idea is that you'll be creating more credible connections than the mass collection of semistrangers or even bots that populate most folks' MySpace profiles. (Plus, founder James Sun is clearly a Starbucks fan who hails from Seattle, so there's a pretty overpowering coffee-shop culture influence going on here.)

Zoodango isn't a bad concept, but I'm skeptical about its overall appeal. For purely professional purposes, LinkedIn's "bland resume-like reflection" (from the Zoodango press release) of a person's professional experience is not only appropriate, but informative. When it comes to purely social interactions, I think MySpace and Facebook have more than cornered the market. And when it comes to meeting people in person...are we still doing that? That is so pre-Web! The site officially launches in January, so I'll wait to be proven wrong. You never know--maybe there's a seething pent-up desire out there for lattes and in-person business-card swapping, and I just never knew it.