I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but I recently came across a new web app called Krawler[x] that is a cross between the two biggest trends of Web 2.0 and the Dot Com days. Social networking (web 2) + P2P (dot com). It sounded a bit more interesting than the usual run-of-the-mill social bookmarking service (a new one of those pops up every few days, it seems), so I decided to take a looksie...
It takes a while to grok what Krawler[x] is - and to be frank they could start by losing the "[x]" bit. Here's the summary in the FAQ:
"Krawler[x] is a full-fledged tool to create, share, search and securely manage communities and content - stuff like Office Documents, Presentations, Help-files & Tutorials, Assignments, Project Data, Whitepapers etc. Krawler[x] lets you create your own personal secure social network right from your desktop."
It actually sounds like a glorified CMS - and the FAQ says as much a few lines down: "Technically, Krawler[x] serves as a personal Learning and Content Management System."
Krawler has all the usual SNS tools - a WYSIWYG content editor, email, IM, forums, search. And I can see where the P2P part comes in, with other people able to access documents on your hard drive via Krawler's file transfer functionality. But how is it 'social networking'?
Perhaps it's here: http://my.krawlerx.com/. This is where the communities and rated content is. For example, clicking on this item - an English grammar tutorial - takes me to a page with a link through to the content, which is on the content owner's hard drive. You can only open it up using the krawlerx client.
One question that springs to mind is: why use the desktop to store documents? Why not use a web-based service, like all the other blogging and social networking platforms (MySpace, etc)? The interestingly named P2P 2.0 blog gives us this possible answer:
"Krawler[x] is p2p social networking platform that lets you view not just your friends’ profiles, but their shared content and more as well. No Browser. No more silly bad bad server with nuts. No sucky logging in to read your messages. No sucky orkut. And Krawler can perform p2p search as well.
P2P Search. Krawler[x] search reaches the innards of Office Files (doc/ppt/xls), Acrobat Files (.pdf) and the regular stuff like HTML and Text Files; which means that one can efficiently full-text search within files shared on a network(shared through Krawler[x]). The search being distributed, queries propagates rapidly through the P2P network and provide amazing speed.Krawler[x]
Does that sound like a mini-Google for a small scale lan, which uses no server ?
Yes, you heard that right."
Krawler is Windows-only and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1, so that may limit its audience somewhat (I've just lost all the Linux fans who read down this far - sorry!). Nevertheless it sounds like an interesting concept. Essentially, the files are on users desktops - but the social networking functionality is web-based. You could make a case for that being the best of both worlds.