Wellesley High School freshman Matt Snyder and his cousin Mason Fisher, a college student in North Carolina, have created a website called Solostop that’s designed to help people become more efficient social network users and more easily share online content.
The site, first written about recently in Wellesley High’s The Bradford, is being given a fresh facelift in coming months and you can see a sneak peek above. Snyder has also been on the marketing trail, presenting to fellow students about the site during Wellesley High’s seminar day this week (photo below). Impressed by Snyder’s ambitions, I fired off a few questions to learn more about Solostop.
Is this focused on WHS students/teachers, or are you looking to attract a wider audience?
Solostop is definitely for much broader audiences than just WHS. We view Solostop as a social tool that is applicable to every generation, in slightly different ways to each. Younger users may be more interested in Solostop for staying updated when using multiple social networking sites, as well as the simplicity of our drag-and-drop sharing. Many may be interested in the fact that the next version of Solostop offers privacy settings far superior to those of Facebook and Twitter, allowing them to be more open than they can be on those sites where it’s easy for people they don’t know to see posts. Older users will also appreciate these features, but will also be more likely to enjoy the elegance of Solostop’s aggregation of news and the ease at which they can drag and drop interesting articles to others or to their followers, and easily read articles that have been shared with them by either friends or by someone they follow on Solostop.
Solostop is an innovative and elegant solution to sharing and staying updated in a world where information overload often results in missed details. Solostop has your entire Twitter and Facebook news feeds, side by side, and will soon be offering an option to integrate them into one integrated news stream. Solostop allows you to post to Twitter and Facebook, but also lets you take a post from Twitter and post it to Facebook, and vice-versa. Solostop also has The New York Times, Google News, Wired, and CNN news integrated, with all the major categories of news for each. You could see an interesting story on NYT, drag and drop it to a friend, and they’ll see it on their stream. In the future, Solostop will include thumbnails with articles with a short description, like Facebook. We’re also working on adding a bookmark so that if you’re on a page that you would like to save or share on Solostop, you can bookmark it and next time you check your “Saved” section, you can either drag and drop it to a friend, a group of friends, all your friends, all your followers, or to your private favorites folder. Solostop keeps everything that matters to you in one organized place, ready for your viewing, sharing, and saving at any time.
Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow users to have great ease of use in scheduling tweets and posting tweets easily, and posting to Facebook as well. However, they don’t involve sharing.
How many people have signed up? What are teachers saying….are they signing up?
We have over 350 signups, and the only audience Solostop has been introduced to is WHS. Solostop used WHS as a beta launch crowd, even though anyone on the Web can sign up. I haven’t heard much about it from my teachers, though most of them have asked me about it at some point. I’m not actually sure whether teachers are allowed to join it due to the rules about teachers and social networks that the state and school set, but with new privacy settings coming soon we’d be happy to have them.
As we finish the next version of Solostop at the beginning of March, we expect many more users to sign up, as we will begin spreading word beyond WHS, and will also pass out some more of our Solostop stickers for water bottles, cars, phones, or whatever else people want to mark Solostop on. We will begin spreading Solostop on the University of North Carolina campuses as well as to tech websites and local media.
How much time do you guys spend on this project? (Are you a coders?)
Mason and I don’t do the coding for Solostop, other than the occasional HTML work, as we work with a group of developers out of Ohio to produce the site. I have basic programming skills, as does Mason, but not enough to scale a project as large as Solostop, which has tens of thousands of lines of code. Mason and I do all the design, run the business side, collaborate with the team on what to do when and which designs to follow, and I work on our media side of spreading the word about Solostop and presenting it to interested groups. The design and presentations take up a significant amount of time, usually an hour or two a night plus Saturday and/or Sunday afternoon. We’ve been very busy as we work on Solostop’s summer plans, finish the second version, begin work for the third version, work on designing an iOS app, and work on improving our logo, in addition to investor presentations, etc.
I see the system comes by default with Facebook and Twitter links… any other social sites really gaining ground among the WHS community (Instagram? Google+?)
WHS has really scaled back on Facebook usage, with many students switching to using Twitter and Instagram more for briefer, more meaningful posts, as well as better privacy. Usage of Instagram and Snapchat has really exploded at WHS as the way of sharing visually instead of with words. Solostop Front Page View (shown at top of this post) will really embrace this by adding a Solostop stream with all the pictures posted from your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, giving users a way to only look at visual posts if they chose. Google+ had a brief foothold last year that faded fast. I really like the idea of Google+ and Solostop builds on some ideas from it, but Google+ suffered from being too complex.
In general, how integral is social networking in your life, both socially and for school?
I use social networking less than most of my classmates due to a lack of time for it, but I still spend probably around 15-20 minutes a day on it. For school, Facebook has definitely become a utility, with groups for classes being very popular, so that if someone has a question, it can be answered, or pictures of notes or assignments can be shared. It’s especially helpful for making collaborative study guides when tests are approaching. Solostop hopes to build on that by allowing easy document upload, allowing teachers to contribute documents to a group for their students, as well as drag articles or resources to them as needed. It could lead to a closer integration between students and teachers.