With digital data doubling every two years, you probably can’t keep track of all the sites where you share your personal info now, much less the data itself. Vizify aims to do that for you. Starting Thursday, the startup will automatically compile the your daily social network activity into a one-stop visual summary of your online essence.
"When you start to have a long, long [online] history and your data starts becoming unmanageable, the idea is that we’ll need a new way to handle it,” its founder Todd Silverstein tells Fast Company. Creating a profile on Vizify is a two-minute process that mostly involves connecting online services such as Foursquare, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and it will automatically update as you continue to add to those other sites.
It aims to zoom out on the data you create about yourself every day. Instead of wading through your Twitter page, which includes daily conversations and retweets, visitors to your Vizify profile see an interactive list of the words you Tweet most often. Instead of a LinkedIn resume, they see a career timeline. And instead of your Foursquare badges, it breaks down the places you visit into a pie graph.
The startup isn’t alone in its attempt to summarize identity through data visualizations.
Silverstein says one of the inspirations for the startup was designer Nicholas Felton, who started something of a trend with detailed, infographic annual reports of his life. The reports highlight how, when put together in the right visualization, hundreds of thousands of data points can tell a big-picture story.
Felton also lead the design of Facebook Timeline, which adds a summary layer to the social network’s constant stream of app activity, photos, status updates, and friends’ comments. Vizify’s goals are similar, but Silverstein argues they’re better achieved away from the behemoth of a social site. "They’re starting with the parts, and we’re starting with the whole and illustrating parts where it makes sense,” he says.
But if the problem is online data overload, why bother adding another online profile to the mix? For one, says Silverstein, because you’re looking for a job and want to make a good, succinct online impression. Eventually, Vizify plans to offer premium features such as additional customization options, analytics, and team pages. Job seekers, well aware that hiring managers are Googling them, seem the most likely to shell out extra cash for a polished online presence. According to a recent survey commissioned by CareerBuilder, 37% of companies use social networking sites to screen job candidates.
But online presence is also becoming a more important component of relationships in general. Another study, commissioned by social network Badoo, suggested 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person. If socializing is indeed moving online with the same force as information is, Vizify is poised to be its digestable first impression. “Online identity may be becoming more important than offline identity,” Silverstein says. "Which may be terrifying. But there are also some interesting opportunities.”