Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake has been building her location-based exploration service Findery for years, with access only available to a select group of testers. Today,it goes live to the world.
There are already slews of apps that use your location to tell you more about what's going on around you, so why would you need another? The biggest difference between Findery and service like Yelp or Foursquare, according to Fake, is that it's all about stories. So while other apps will help you find the best nearby Mexican joint, and what kind of taco you should order there, Findery will give you a deeper story, say, about what the building us to be.
The service, which was called Pinwheel when Mat Honan gushed about it two years ago on this blog, has been operating in an extended beta with "thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands..." of users who have been building out a foundation of content so that when the broader public wanders in, they've got something to see.
Basically, the app allows you to find out what Caterina Fake would like to think is a deeper story about locations. The most logical thing to do when you fire up the app is look at the world immediately around you. For example, I did not know that there is an amazingly under-utilized graffiti wall down the street from my house. Of course, you're welcome to go explore any part of the world. I looked up the famous Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires and somebody had written a long explainer about one of the statues.
Additionally, these "notes" can be organized into thematic maps, like the wonderfully comprehensive "Tacos" map. The social aspect works on a follower model much like Instagram or Twitter.
Right now there's not that much content on Findery but there's enough to show a curious person trying it out that it might be worth sticking around to see what happens. In any given neighborhood, you run out of things to look at pretty quickly. But imagine if you had a question about a mural or a weird building and you could reliably look it up on Findery—it would be awesome.
What's most curious about Findery is that it appears to be fighting the entropy of online services I've noticed. Services, and especially mobile ones, are getting simpler and simpler. First you had Facebook now you have Twitter. First you had Match.com, now you have Tinder. Newer services ask less and less of their users whereas Findery is actually asking kind of a lot. For it to really achieve the robust ecosystem of content it'll need to really be useful and successful, a set of users are going to have to invest a lot of work.
Caterina Fake says she's building Findery as a kind reaction to some of the over-simplification on the social web. She blasts social networks as "social peacocking," saying, "we don't want to be cool." If the service succeeds, it'll be a rebellion against the more selfish tendencies of what you find online. Serving a bigger, collaborative cause doesn't always work in the digital world, but but services like GitHub and Wikipedia are very good examples that show it's possible.
Findery is currently only available for iOS or through your desktop web browser. An Android version is currently in development. [iTunes]