StyleFeeder – Step 1: Start!

I’ve been working on a project for the past several months and I flipped the switch to make it live over the weekend.

http://www.stylefeeder.com/ is intended to be a useful free service for people who shop online for stylish stuff. If you’ve ever tried to buy clothes that are in any way original, you know how hard this is. If you want furnishings in your own home that don’t remind of you of the Pottery Barn table incident on Friends, then StyleFeeder will be right up your alley. Buying clothes from Gap, J. Crew and Banana Republic is easy, but not terribly satisfying. Big designers need to sell the same thing to lots of people – but do we all have the same design tastes? I can’t imagine why we should. There are a lot of small shops online that get drowned in the deluge of marketing and noise on the web and it is my hope that StyleFeeder will help open the doors to their storefronts.

The Web is supposed to equalize the David and Goliaths out there, but things seem to be homogenized more than anything else. Think of it this way: given infinite knowledge and infinite access to a range of choice in products that you are going to buy anyway, do you think that we’d all wear shoes by the same manufacturer and put the same coffee table in front of the sofa?

And the best way to find things that you like these days is through other humans that have overlapping preferences. Sure, computers and clever algorithms can help (and we’re going to build that into StyleFeeder in a very advanced and usable way, I assure you), but what you really need is to share the cool stuff that you find online with your friends. And you need to let a thousand other people watch and search through your networks. Navigation this way makes much more sense to me than pushing advertisements at people.

The reason why you may not have heard about StyleFeeder before now doesn’t mean that it’s been any kind of a secret… I’ve just been focusing on getting it functional. I heard once that Steve Jobs banned product pre-announcements at Apple (I don’t even know if this is true, actually!). And in that same spirit, I prefer to speak with actions rather than words. Words are cheap. Actions – well, code in this case – is not. About a month ago, I noticed that StyleHive, some company in San Francisco (Um… hello guys!), seemed to be doing something that sounds like it might be in the same space, based on the description on their homepage. But instead of an actual website, they seem to have a few paragraphs of badly written text and a mail form so they can tell you when they have their site built. There’s a famous quote in hacker circles: “We believe in rough consensus and running code.” And I believe in that, too. Mail forms don’t count as “running code,” in my opinion.

StyleFeeder is definitely not finished. I still look at it and wince at certain things, but I have these things written down and we’ll fix, tweak, twist, hack and push things into shape to make this effort better and better.

Invite all your friends and enjoy it! And please let me know what you think. Send me email, post comments on the blog or pick up the phone and call me if you have to!

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