Bandwidth blog has been tipped off from an internal source that South Africa’s internet giant, 24.com, has stepped into the social networking realm with their latest offering, Laaik.it. By recreating a popular US web 2.0 concept with South African flavour, Laaik.it has followed in the footsteps of the popular US based Digg.com just like another local social news startup Muti. Laaik.it allows you to submit, rate and discuss news submitted by you or other members of the community. This has proved to be a popular concept in one of the world’s biggest internet markets – the states – invented by American web entrepreneur Kevin Rose from Digg.com. Social news sites have handed the homepage editing capabilities to the members of its community compared to older more traditional news portals that have a hand full of editors that control what content is shown on the homepage. With sites like Muti and Laaik the users can decide what news hits the homepage by voting stories up or down. This concept is based on the wisdom of crowds theory which believes that eventually the masses will decide what news is good and whats not.
Laaik.it, the brain child of 24 executives, Elan Lohmann and Alistair Fairweather, has been themed with some local flava with its name deriving from an Afrikaans term and clever use of the Italian domain name (.it). They have combined elements from Digg and popular bookmarking site delicious creating a social news platform that can be used in different ways. When submitting a story to Laaik.it you can select from a few categories (they will be adding more soon) and select the content type e.g. Blog post, Image, video or News article. This adds a welcome dimension to content filtering as you can now select just to view blog posts and then filter them by Popular, Upcoming or ‘Virgin’ links – which I presume are stories with no votes whatsoever besides the automatic authors vote. From there you can again filter the content with options such as stories submitted in the past 24 hours, past 7 days and the past 30 days. Rounding off the functionality is the ability to search all the links submitted (powered by 24.com search offcourse) and tags on the homepage featuring keywords submitted to the site. To use the new service you need to create a 24.com account which you can then use to login to Laaik.it and any of the other properties in the 24 network.
Will Laaik.it be the Muti killer? Likely not as Muti has a loyal cult blogger following – but Media24 does capture about 60% of the SA internet audience so with a few carefully placed links on their other web properties and some editorials in their arsenal of newspapers and magazines the site can (will) gain some serious traction and out rank Muti with regards to traffic. I think its great for local innovation and competition that the likes of 24.com are getting involved in niche social networking markets as their portfolio of web properties features mostly traditional web 1.0 news portals. I had a few words with Elan about their latest project and he had these interesting thoughts –
We believe that SN platforms like Facebook are very hard to compete with but social Media such as Digg is an easier area to challenge because we are sure we can provide MUCH more local relevance than a Digg can. You won’t see a headline about SA winning RWC on the Digg, Reddit or Stumble Upon front pages?
The interesting challenge is going to be if our local competitors like MG, IOL, iafrica, Times etc will be willing to add the laaik.it button? They are all adding Digg, Muti, Reddit buttons etc – Hard to see how they cannot add us.. we want to see content from everywhere on the site. We are not trying to create a walled garden for Media24. That’s NB.
Here is their site description –
Laaik.it is a social news and bookmarking service that lets you decide which issues and stories are important (those you “œlaaik“) and which aren‘t worth your time (those you “œdislaaik“). As you and thousands of other users “œlaaik“ and “œdislaaik“ stories, a community driven picture of the day‘s (and week‘s and month‘s) news emerges.