I spent a lot of Tuesday planning parties, including one graduation party and one birthday party. I’m also trying to plan a pre-concert tailgating party. In the midst of it all, I decided against using eVite and went on the look for some alternatives.
For the birthday party, I used Socializr. For the graduation party, I used MyPunchBowl, which is pretty, “ajax-y,” and I really liked it. But the winner in the eVite alternative was a little website called Center’d, formerly known as Fatdoor. Center’d is in beta (or as they call it, First Draft), but last week I had a nice conference call with the founders, Jennifer Dulski, who migrated from Yahoo!, and Chandu Thota, who came from Microsoft. Between the two of them, they have the experience to succeed (even if the Yahoo!/Microsoft talks continue to waffle).
Center’d serves as a nice eVite replacement. I was easily able to plan a party, pick a location, and date, and send invites. Center’d offers the nice feature, similar to MyPunchBowl, of voting on places and dates. You can also assign tasks to people, or allow them to volunteer. If you want to bring in an image for your event you can, or you can select from the Creative-Commons licensed set of images provided by Center’d. The real feature in Center’d, however, is its use of location.
Often, location-based networks focus on the West & East Coasts and skip over the middle of the nation. Not Center’d. They’re working on loading data from every place that they can. Cincinnati even had information loaded! Center’d pulls its location information from a variety of sources, including Google Maps and InfoUSA.
You can search for specific things. For instance, I searched for Pizza in Cincinnati and got a good list of results. You can also save your favorite places, as I did with Pomodori’s Pizza. You can use this search feature in two ways: to find something just for you or to help you when planning an event. When possible, they bring in ratings reviews as well, pulling from Yelp! and similar sites.
The information they’re accessing strikes me as about 1 year out of date, based on the restaurants that do – and don’t – display. I also question from where they are pulling the public event info. I’m thrilled that the information is available, but as of right now, the information [on Cincinnati events at least] is more odd than useful.
There is a social networking aspect to the site as well. You can “friend” other people and view their favorite places. If I know that Erica’s favorite place is Club Dv8, then I might be more inclined to try it myself. As in Facebook, you can view other people’s connections, as well as your shared connections, which is always interesting. Because you can add tags and a bio to your profile, you can also learn a little bit about other people, which is helpful for conversation starters.
Center’d nicely combines local search with a easy-to-use set of planning tools. Perhaps location-based everything is the future, whether in the new iPhone, in BrightKite, or in Center’d. It’s popping up a lot. Perhaps that means that while we all like the Web, we’d rather use it to meet in person.