I was charmed by the small and simple model of one-page-at-a-time publishing that CheckThis offered when it first launched. CheckThis offered users the capability to publish single pages, like single posts, with various sorts of content embedded, like text, videos, audio, and so on. And this includes the possible integration with Paypal to sell goods and services.
CheckThis raised nearly $1 million in venture funding (Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Index Ventures, Betaworks,Seedcamp and other angel investors) in order to continue developing its approach to web publishing. And they’ve released a new iteration of the site, based on the concept of a ‘social poster’. In essence, they’ve built a new social sidebar on the side of the small and simple webpages that the older release provided.
Here’s an example of a poster I threw together today:
At the left you can see the content — this is shown in edit mode — and at the bottom the various kids of content that can be added. I’ve already created a title and subtitle, text, and embedded a video. To the right you see the social elements as an activity stream, with some summary information at the top. When posted it looks very similar, although the bar at the bottom of the content area — with the media elements — isn’t present. Otherwise, very WYSIWYG.
The premise of use is that the author will share the link to the public or ‘hidden’ poster, and that readers will navigate to the URL. Alternatively, users have profiles in CheckThis which include a gallery of their posters. Here’s mine (at checkthis.com/user/stoweboyd):
Note that I had selected A Private Poster and it shows the ghost icon, indicating to me that it is set as hidden, meaning only those who have the URL can get to see A Private Poster. Hidden is as close to private as CheckThis gets.
The Bottom Line
I can see the utility of a service like CheckThis. It stands off to one side from heavyweight web sites and blogs in that you can create pages that are small bore and highly focused. I can imagine using it to promote a concert, an event or a book, or to publish the details of a party. The integration with Paypal lines up with those use cases very well. But even when money is not changing hands, I still see CheckThis providing value, even in the pure business setting. For example, a team could publish alternative designs for the new website and use the polling capability and the comment thread to create and capture a discussion.
[In passing let me mention that the poster in the lower right -- Operating Manual For Social Tools -- is a poster I put together when CheckThis first launched. The materials there are repurposed from a project I led in 2004 on behalf of Zero Degrees, a social network startup that subsequently was acquired by Barry Diller's Interactive Corp and then shut down. Working with me were danah boyd, noted social researcher, and David Weinberger, of author Small Pieces, Loosely Joined and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto. It is still makes for an interesting read.]