For Rudy Adler and Brett Huneycutt, the future of social
networking is the past.
The co-founders of the San Francisco startup 1000memories are trying to turn the world's smartphones into tools to digitalize the estimated 1.8 trillion fading and yellowing snapshots that people have lying around in their attics, garages and picture albums -- often among the most prized, and least seen, of people's possessions.
The goal of the two friends since third grade is to add the past tense to the up-to-the-minute stream of social networks.
The company's iPhone app, called ShoeBox, allows users to photograph their old snapshots with the camera in their smartphone, upload the digital image to the Internet, and share it with anyone they choose. The same day ShoeBox launched in late October, Adler got an email from an interested partner. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to impart a pep talk.
"He said that he liked the app and was excited for people to start using it to fill in their Facebook Timelines," Adler said.
Timeline is the prominent new feature on Facebook that is currently being phased in across the 850-million user social network. It's a sort of digital scrapbook that allows people to tell "the story of their lives," as Zuckerberg described it when he announced the new feature at Facebook's annual developer conference in September.
1000memories recently updated its ShoeBox app so a user can photograph an old photo with their iPhone, upload it, and then post it directly to their Facebook Timeline, parking the image in whatever year the photo was originally snapped.
Analog vs. digital
ShoeBox is a solution to what remains one of the biggest obstacles to using the Internet to store memories: For most people, the major share of photos, journal entries or other containers of memory are analog, not digital. 1000memories estimates that while about three-quarters of a 25-year-old's photographs are digital, just 12 percent of a 65-year-old's are.
"For most people, there is this really big gap between when you were born and when you joined Facebook," Adler said. "We think this is going to be a really great tool for people to fill in the back story.
"We've always been focused on the past tense. We think in general that social media does a bad job of talking about the past tense; it talks about the 'now,' " Adler added. "But there is so much information now, and there are so many problems, like a death, on social media that require a past tense."
ShoeBox is one of a growing list of Timeline apps that includes San Francisco-based book-sharing service Goodreads, Menlo Park, Calif.-based travel site Gogobot and movie site Rotten Tomatoes, which Facebook says can become as important as old photos to preserve memories and tell your story.
Typically, those services are a combination of a website integrated with Facebook and a smartphone app, so a person can instantly share experiences from the real world. The titles of the books people note that they read each month on Goodreads, for example, would show up on the News Feeds of their friends on the social network.
The new apps allow people "to bring the important parts of their lives -- such as travel memories, favorite books or movie reviews - - to their Timeline," said Ethan Beard, Facebook's director of
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