Tag Archives: Twitter

Entrepreuninsight: Ant-esocial

One of the internet’s greatest gifts is its ability to connect people. Anyone with an internet connection can communicate with the whole world, give or take local censorship laws, which would have seemed inconceivable not long ago.

However mankind, unused to such a vast social vista, has tended to form tribes in corners of the internet, communities tied together by a certain webpage, and sometimes also by real-life experience. These are social networks, and in many cases they have outgrown their virtual corner, with Facebook and Twitter sprawling greedily across cyberspace.

The central tenet of all such sites is communication, between members, the site and the advertisers who (oftentimes) pay the bills, and websites are always trying to increase their user engagement. However for some people, this constant communication is a real turn-off. Ralph Arkleton was one such user.

“It was just a bit much, or that’s how I felt,” explains Ralph. “Why did people keep contacting me, or projecting their opinions on me? I wanted to be on Facebook, but I didn’t want to have to deal with all of that. That’s why I started Ant-esocial, the internet’s first antisocial network”

Founded in early 2013, Ant-esocial closely resembles Facebook, but you soon notice the subtle differences. Instead of a newsfeed, the Ant-esocial homepage simply reads “Nothing to see here, do whatever you want.” The messenger function is conspicuous by its absence. And while you can see other people on the site, if you click on anyone’s profile, a pop-up reads “Easy there, give them some space.”

“I’m an introvert, really. So is half of the population of the US. This site is for them,” says Ralph, as he stares contentedly at his No-newsfeed. “People ask why be part of a network at all, and that’s a good question. I don’t know either, but I do definitely want to belong. I just don’t want to have to talk to people.”

Ralph is not alone, with socially reserved users signing up in droves. “We have no idea who they are, of course,” says Ralph. “I would never be so forward as to ask them to fill in personal information. I’m just glad that they’re there, and that they’re not trying to communicate with me.”

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Entrepreuninsight: Grammer

It is a truism that the modern man (or woman) on the web has more potential megaphones than any of his ancestors.  It has never been easier to broadcast your opinions to the masses, whether the masses are interested or not.

While no one would deny that this democracy of the internet is one of the great gifts of the modern era, some do quibble with how this freedom is being used. Indeed, your author is still baffled by the proliferation of cats, adorable and otherwise, in these virtual hallways. Others are more concerned about how we are taking advantage of the internet as a channel of communication. Entrepreneur John Simkins is one such concerned internet resident.

“I suppose it boils down to the fact that we have been blessed by two man-made miracles,” explains John, “the internet and the English language.  My problem was that we seemed unable to make the most of both simultaneously.”

Indeed this is a very sensitive topic for John, what he refers to as the “bastardisation of the English language”. “I mean it’s ridiculous, what does it all mean?” he exclaims. “I thought this might be the golden era for English prose, but instead we’ve been reduced to a parade of acronyms, selfies, hashtags and emoticons!”

It was this degeneration that inspired John to start Grammer, a social-network for language-lovers. The concept was inspired by Twitter, where there is a maximum number of characters per message. In Grammer, the length is unlimited, with the only requirement being that the message must be written in perfectly composed English.

While the number of subscribers is still in the growth phase, the concept has a fanatical fan-base. Librarian Jen Howland is a super-user. “I used to be on Twitter, but then it all became too much for me. I was just seeing red mist the whole time, so many dangling prepositions! Grammer is like heaven for me.”

The concept is simple.  Upon submitting a message, Grammer’s algorithms go to work, informing you whether your message is fit for online consumption, and how to update it if not, from your to you’re to theirs to there and beyond. Meanwhile, the underlying open-source programme is constantly being updated by a volunteer community of Definers. “I can’t speak highly enough of our Definers,” says John, “they’re the lifeblood of our operation. They’ve even started catching mis-placed gerunds, which is really tricky stuff.”

The project is already attracting significant interest from Venture Capitalists, “though they’re only welcome if they know how to capitalise appropriately,” jokes John. “I think we’re on to a really interesting thing here. Some people call us Grammar Nazis, but we’re a pretty irreverent bunch.  The name of the App is even mis-spelled, intentionally!  We might love grammar, but we still know how to have a good time.”

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