Photo by williamscollege, Creative Commons license via Flickr

Notwithstanding Dick’s newfound interest in social media, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only social networks neglected by EphBlog. WSO has a post about the latest bit of Internet seriousness/silliness, the social network service LikeALittle, a viral hybrid of Twitter and Craigslist’s “Missed Connections.” Examples from LikeALittle’s Williams page are illustrative:

At GoodrichFemale, Brunette

you are across from me, sippin’ on a Superfood odwalla. wish you’d sip on more than that ;)

At Basketball GameMale, Brunette

I see sitting on the bench looking all sexy. You may not hit the court all the time but you can score with me anytime ;)

Not that they’re all lacking in a certain geeky charm:

At Sawyer: Female, Blonde

You make my scatter plot form a strong positive linear trend

Readers of these comments can “like,” share on Facebook, and comment anonymously:

At outside of PareskyMale, Brunette

I said hi to you and regret not saying more.

Pomegranate says: Where was this?

Author says: In passing along the path from Paresky to Sawyer

Why “Pomegranate”? Well, it turns out that every user, each time they post on a new thread or create a new post, is assigned the name of a fruit: boysenberry, lucuma, pumpkin, pomegranate, etc.

Likealittle’s company profile explains the concept further:

a flirting-facilitator platform (or FFP, for advanced users). The site’s purpose is to allow you to compliment and chat about your crushes around you or otherwise bemoan your missed encounters from the safety of your trusty screen. And we hope, of course, that you’ll put yourself out there once in a while to make a real connection!

When I first heard about LikeALittle, I thought it a parody. Launching just three weeks after The Social Network landed in theaters, it seemed to be an ironic take on Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook hack on Harvard’s internal facebooks. Co-founder Evan Reas seemed to confirm that take in an interview with the Stanford Review:

“We did expect it to go well, because buzz words like ‘flirting’ and ‘gossip’ on a college campus are just like honey,” said Evan Reas, a graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 2009… “It’s like yes I want some of that, but I didn’t expect it to take off by itself.”

After less than a day of actual development, two days of marketing, and the creation of seed content that was posted by a starting group of users, “It very quickly turned from that core group into a much, much larger group” incorporating the whole student body, according to Reas…

Reas hopes that likealittle.com “can be a huge business, can change the world, and affect a lot of people at the same time.”

But LikeALittle’s popularity has perhaps outstripped its founders’ expectations, with tens of millions of page views and sites for hundreds of campuses. Change the world, indeed!

Predictably, it’s also stirred controversy. Jeff Abernathy, President of Alma College and Inside Higher Ed blogger worries that “Furtive, anonymous commentary rich with racy innuendo” is at odds with the “educational strategies” of the liberal arts college, while a writer for the Fordham Ram editorializes that “[t]he LikeALittle aesthetic allows little room for maturity. It is the kind of thing a group of high school girls would engulf given the chance.”

Meanwhile, the posts on LikeALittle are met by some mix of enthusiasm, appreciation, and ridicule:

At GreylockFemale, Brunette

I see you with that tight quidditch shirt. Why don’t you ride my broomstick. It’ll make you fly

Eggplant says: its probably closer in size to a wand…

I did say “ridicule,” not “maturity.”

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