It’s not a social network; it’s an “experiment.” That’s the word from Google on the launch of their Keen platform.
According to Monojoy Bhattacharjee in What’s New in Publishing, some are seeing it as an AI-powered Pinterest-like app, although “it’s a bit more than just an image sharing service.”
“Keen, according to its creators, is an experiment from Area 120 and PAIR, built to expand what you’re into, helping you curate, collaborate and expand every interest,” Bhattacharjee writes.
“Keen can save and add links, text, images and web searches, and everything you add gets you more to explore, as it leverages the Google Search index, combined with user feedback, to provide personalized recommendations that improve over time,” he continues.
To get a better handle on what Keen is all about, think back to Google Alerts … but imagine those alerts laid out in a nice visual format, and easy to see and share online.
It might be easier to understand what it’s NOT … it was not designed to be a social platform where people spend hours browsing and scrolling, says Keen co-founder CJ Adams. “Instead, it’s a home for your interests: a place to grow them, share them with loved ones and find things that will help in making this precious life count,” Adams notes.
Actually that sounds kinda nice. So many people I’ve talked to lately have little to no use for Facebook /Twitter / Instagram, citing the nastiness and divisiveness that permeate so much of the content. (Facebook was recently called “the new cigarette.”Ouch.) But they would like a place to share photos, recipes, stay in touch with people who share the same interests. It’s really a chance to curate your own content from what’s out there. This little video does a nice job of explaining the basic idea … you create a “Keen” around a topic of choice, curate some content on that topic, then invite collaboration from like-minded folks:
I also like the idea of a self-curated platform; digital media has long had a serious curation problem, and a platform that could work as your own self-directed content compilation could have a lot of value.
Of course, Google has never quite been able to break into the social scene, but they do have a massive audience and a good understanding of search habits. If they really can drive people to engage through shared interests… rather than through algorithms that may or may not be accurate… Keen might have a shot.
“Even if you’re not an expert on a topic, you can start curating a keen and save a few interesting “gems” or links that you find helpful,” Adams explains. “These bits of content act like seeds and help keen discover more and more related content over time. You can also follow keens that others have created, discovering thousands of hand-curated lists from the community and getting alerts when new things are added.”
I question the timing of the launch – do we even have the mind space to try something new at this point, when we are all completely saturated with digital connectivity? We’ll see; at the very least it could give a whole lot of people who are disgusted with social media a new place to explore. That alone makes it intriguing enough to try.