December 28, 2011

Spend New Year’s Eve partying with your Facebook buddies

Schmooze with your buddies from around the world on .Friends

.FriendsAyelet NoffYou and your friends from all over the world walk into a bar on New Year’s Eve. The music is great, the bartender is friendly, and you and all your friends are dressed up in your favorite outfits. Your friend from London decides to pick a different song from the jukebox, your friend from Brazil decides to listen to the band instead, while the buddy you just met from Istanbul decides to play a cool YouTube video on the wall of the bar. You head out to the dance floor, whip out some amazing dance moves that are straight-out of a movie, and then the cute guy or girl you’ve been checking out comes over and buys you a drink. Before long you’re chatting it up like you’ve known each other forever, so you decide to have a video chat to get to know each other better.

The best part of all of this is that you never have to leave your living room.

The great virtual night out I just described is possible with .Friends (Dot Friends), a brand new app on Facebook that launched last week. The whole point of the app is to have fun, party with your friends and to meet new ones as well. You go into a virtual world, pick a hot spot from the world-map, and then live it up while chatting with your friends and meeting new ones.

I’m a heavy Facebook user so I know what an amazing platform it is for connecting with people. But Facebook is missing the unique element of personal interaction that is so important. That’s where .Friends comes in. It lets you create a virtual “you” and provides a bunch of cool places where you can party and hang out. .Friends provides a new way and a new venue to interact with people and lets you get together with people from all over the world and hang-out as if you were all in the same spot.

This should sound familiar to tech watchers since a similar app has been making waves recently and raised a “bit” of money as well. But where I think .Friends really shines is in its stunning visuals which make the app a lot more fun to use. Not only that, but you have a ton of options in terms of how you can look in the .Friends world. There’s a huge selection of hair styles, clothes and accessories to create a perfect look. After all, how can you meet people in a virtual world if the virtual ‘you’ doesn’t represent who you are and your own individual style?

Creating your .Friends avatarIt’s east to get started with the app. You can either follow the tutorial when you enter the app or just click on the .Friends logo on the top left. This will open a pull down menu that will enable you to navigate through the world, see the different venues around the globe, change your clothes and more. When you’re in a location and you see someone interesting, you can click on them and then you’ll get a menu of options such as writing them a private chat or buying them a drink. Be careful though, people notice when you buy the cheapest drink on the menu. .Friends also lets you start-up a video chat with someone right from the app making it a convenient and fun way to meet people face-to-face.

While all of this already makes .Friends addictively fun, I think one of the coolest features is still to come. The team at .Friends is putting the finishing touches on a feature that lets you build your own location in the .Friends world. So if you’ve always dreamed of opening up your own bar or club and turning into a world-leading entertainer, you can do it all on .Friends.

Facebook and other social networks are transforming the way we communicate and stay in touch with our friends, making it easier than ever to maintain relationships that span the globe. .Friends – and other social tools that duplicate real-world scenarios – are going to extend the range of interactions we have on the web, add new depth to our online experiences, and strengthen our relationships with friends on social networks.

Disclosure: Blonde 2.0 handles .Friends’ social media activity.

October 18, 2009

Under the Second Life microscope

Chris AbrahamI had the coolest interview recently. The gang from Metanomics invited me to take part in the Metanomics Community Forum yesterday “in world” in Second Life, where I spent an hour in open conversation with around 35-plus folks in world: On My Mind with Chris Abraham – Community Forum.

I loved it because everyone on Second Life is bright, passionate, curious, open, and smart — fellow nerds, maybe. What made my day, however, was that I was being interviewed as though I were from an alien culture!

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March 17, 2009

Shidonni makes kids’ pets come alive

Ayelet NoffHow early do kids start playing online? It’s been well documented in studies going back almost twenty years that children as young as five play PC and console games, but more recently trends have started showing that kids are migrating their gaming habits online. According to Pew Research around 75% of kids and tweens ages 5-12 in the United States play casual games online and the numbers are only slightly less in Western Europe. In retrospection it seems obvious that casual Web gaming with its simple, fast game play geared toward instant gratification would be a perfect fit for the ever shortening attention spans of today’s kids.

One start-up looking to position itself as a leader in this field is the Rehovot, Israel-based Shidonni. The company’s site can animate the drawings of children. If your child draws a dog, for instance, Shidonni’s software can make that dog move, dance and beg for food. At Seedcamp Tel-Aviv a few weeks ago I caught up with Guy Bendov, head of marketing and business development at Shidonni to talk about the company and their virtual pet product for kids. See the video interview after the jump.

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