Social network like Facebook have become a repository for the digital artifacts we rely on to remember times past. Photos of travels, relationship status, new additions to the family and inside jokes between friends. Proust.com, being launched today by IAC, is an online diary that emphasizes the sharing of deep and personal memories with a close circle of friends. ““On the social Web today we share trivial stuff, but why not go deeper, especially with people you’re closer to,” CEO Tom Cortese told All Things D.
The site provides user with more than 1000 questions to get the ball rolling and divides a lifetime into chapters like First Love, Home Sweet Home and My Ride. The complete Proust Questionnaire is also available as a way to jump start the process of autobiography.
Recollections can include multimedia and be tagged with people and places. For questions like “who was your first love” and “who was the first person to break your heart?”, users are prompted to include dates. The query about you first time sharing a set of keys includes a prompt for a geo-tag. Users can view their life as a timeline or a map.
If you sign in with Faceboook, Proust will take you through a history of your “likes”, which sort of contradicts the idea that this is a place for non-trivial memories, but will probably be a powerful way for a heavy FB user to jog their memories 80 years from now.
Proust.com plans to monetize by selling a physical book that collect these memories. Users can set their online stories to public or private and the company plans to add a data export tool soon, a nice gesture from a start-up that has yet to really establish a user base. Mr. Cortese also makes his story public on the site, which is a great way to build user trust and give a sense of how the service can be used. “Born in the Bronx, raised in New Jersey. My Italian roots mean I have more cousins than I can count and family and food always come first.”
Seem like Mr. Cortese was always a bit of a geek. “I broke my tibia near the ankle when I was about 16. I was hurriedly running up the stairs with my brand new external hard drive in hand ready to get it set up for the first time! Mid stair-run, I realized I’d forgotten something, pivoted to turn down the stairs, then stepped on my left ankle with my right foot and ….’crack.'”
Mr. Cortese told All Things D that the site will not rely on any other IAC properties for distribution and hopes to grow organically. At the same time, relationship sites like Match, OkCupid and Chemistry.com, along with Evite, are listed as partners sites at the bottom of Proust.com’s website. For anyone couples who meet and perhaps marry through these sites, they may contain a wealth of memories, both intimate and uncomfortable, that could be exported to Proust.com.