Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Marcel Proust Inspires a Social Network: Personal Memory Bank

Proust, a new social site owned by Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, is today launching a personal journaling service for users to share their life stories with their friends and families.

The company name is a reference to the French writer Marcel Proust, who famously (to some people, at least!) answered probing questions about himself in what’s come to be known as the Proust Questionnaire.

“On the social Web today we share trivial stuff, but why not go deeper, especially with people you’re closer to,” explained Proust CEO Tom Cortese in a recent interview.

Proust divides life experiences into chapters, presenting users with more than a thousand questions to get them telling their personal stories. Users can choose, quite simply, to make their answers public or private to only their contacts. They can also view their life histories as a map or timeline.

Proust will help users import their photos from Facebook and upload their videos to Vimeo, but unlike similar services such as Memolane, the site is less about aggregating a users’ existing social Web posts and more about creating new entries.

Cortese said Proust’s plans to make money include helping users print copies of their memories as physical books. He also committed to releasing a data export tool this fall.

Proust was incorporated in February 2010 and has six employees. Cortese said IAC does not plan to promote or distribute the site by using its other properties, but rather to let it grow organically on its own.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work