Once again, I've stumbled across an interesting Google Map mashup that's worth passing on. Frapper aims to help people keep track of geographical locations of groups. This is one of the more interesting mashups that I've stumbled across in that it's not only useful, but it's also sort of fun. Frapper was created by the team at Rising Concepts, a small start-up run by two college buddies that were looking for a way to keep in touch with their friends after college. The team is also responsible for online calendar site Planzo and career networking site Career Jive.
The name Frapper is a combination of the words "friend mapper" and aims to let users "see the zip code where your friends live or work, letting you find out who works in the office building next door and who lives in the apartment complex across the street." The obvious problem here is that zip codes are large, so the site doesn't exactly tell you who lives in the apartment complex across the street. That said, for national or even state based lists, the functionality is kind of cool.
Users are invited to create their own lists and to then send out invites to people to join up. There's no "send to friend" feature right now, just a URL that you can pass along via email. A send to friend feature would obviously make the site a bit more useful, so it's possible that it will be added somewhere down the line.
I started a group this morning to try and catalog my friends and family, since everyone sort of scattered across the country after college. Then I started thinking about how interesting it would be to know where Search Engine Guide readers were. Part of me expects that they are concentrated in certain areas (California, Chicago, and New England) but the other part says that they're probably all over the place. Then I started thinking, it would be kind of neat to know if any of you were in my own backyard as I wouldn't mind getting together for coffee some time to meet folks. So, I've also setup a Search Engine Guide group and hope that you'll take a few moments to add your name and location to the list. (And maybe check to see if any other folks are located near you.)
There's also a browse group option so that you can see if there are any other groups that you might like to join up with. I quickly discovered that my idea wasn't so original after all. (Lockergnome has already created a group for their readers.) That said there are some practical uses for browsing the lists as well. For example, the homeschooling group might be useful for parents seeking out other homeschoolers in their area. Porsche 928 owners looking for kindred spirits can check out that list.
There's some other functionality that's still missing that would make the site even better. While you can browse a list of groups that have recently been updated, there's no search feature, nor is there a browse all groups feature. There's the potential for some interesting networking groups here if this was tied together with a Friendster or MySpace style environment, but with no ability to look for groups that you might be interested in, things are likely to be slow to take off.
Despite the lack of some important features, this mashup has some potential. Hopefully as more people take the time to check it out and join up, they'll figure out a way to monetize it (local ads?) or to sell the technology to someone that can make better use of it (networking communities) and we'll see a bit more options get added. Until then, be sure to take a moment to add your name to our reader list.
Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
October 14, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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