Mike Isaac

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With ThinkUp, Data Geeks Aim to Create the “Quantified Selfie”

Join_ThinkUpWe may have just reached a new level of self-awareness.

I’m talking about ThinkUp, the latest project from Web vets Gina Trapani and Anil Dash. The project is a combination of introspection, network effects and data analytics, with the goal of shedding light on the meaning of how you use your social channels.

The app, in a nutshell: Hook ThinkUp into your online social channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Over time, it will show off insights into your activities; like, say, if you haven’t been in touch with a particular friend in some time. Or if a tweet you sent made some people happy. Or if any of your followers live closer to you than you may have known.

“It’s almost like a personal coach on how you use social media,” Dash said. “It’s focused on what’s meaningful to you as a person, giving you just enough information to let you know who you are.”

The best analogy, Dash said, is sort of like a HootSuite or Radian6, analytics dashboards often used by brands to gauge the resonance their tweets have on their audience. But with a more personal focus than, say, naming your most retweeted message.

“Analytics tools are great for brands, but don’t really take into account the emotional element,” Dash said.

It’s an interesting proposition, though it may smack of something analogous to Klout, another social media service that gauges and rates the types of activities you partake in online. And, as I’ve argued in the past, while Klout may make a great deal of sense for brands to understand their social following, the company has faced serious problems in explaining just what its consumer pitch is.

Dash avoids any Klout analogies, explaining that ThinkUp aims for insights not given by Klout’s data-driven team.

“Klout misread, from a social standpoint, how to think about all of this,” Dash said of the company, which assigns a score and points on how influential users are in specific topics, and doles out exclusive awards based on those scores. “They misunderstood why people are on these networks, even when they are popular. And in doing that, they’ve tainted their brand.”

While it may not be Klout, ThinkUp acts on the assumption that the public has the desire to dig deeply into how they act and are perceived on the Web. That may be an easy sell to the power users like Dash or other folks who live their entire lives on the Web, but perhaps more difficult to convince the average person who just wants to sign on and blast baby pics out to their Facebook network.

Dash maintains that the product won’t be just for the social media superusers. There are three tiers — member, pro and executive — with the latter two likely being more helpful to power-social users, and the former being best for the basics. And since ThinkUp was built by Trapani on GitHub with her code open-sourced and available to all, Dash imagines that outside coders can use it to create little games or other integrated apps that could be fun for the casual user to play around with.

The app is currently in its backing stage, and plans to go live early next year.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus