Springpad Upgrades Digital Notebook App for Sharing, Discovery, and Persistence

4/11/12Follow @gthuang

If you’re interested in the growth of consumer Web companies in the Boston area, you should know the team at Spring Partners. And if you have deeper questions about how the Web will evolve beyond search and social, well, you should really check out what they’re building.

Charlestown, MA-based Spring Partners is announcing version 3.0 of its Springpad app today, available for free on the Web and in the Android and Apple app stores. Springpad lets users create online, collaborative “notebooks” that help them save and share ideas and information about whatever interests them: books, movies, recipes, gadgets, restaurants, home furnishings, shoes, you name it.

What’s new this time is the collaborative and discovery aspect of the app, whereby you can follow recommendations from your friends—organized by topics (see screenshot below)—or keep track of home decorating ideas with your spouse, say, using a shared notebook that includes comments, photos of furniture choices, and so forth. The overarching idea of the new app is to “share and discover with those you trust,” says Spring Partners co-founder Jeff Janer.

For example, if you’re looking for book or movie suggestions from certain friends whose tastes align with yours, you can create a “springpad” and invite them to contribute their recommendations. Then you can stay in touch with them with shared notes, references, and other interactions around the books in your list.

“This is social for knowledge sharing, not for conversations or transactions,” says Jeff Chow, the company’s co-founder and CEO (after a recent shuffling of duties within the management team). He adds that instead of just building a social app for social’s sake, “we focus on utility first, and then make it social.”

Since its first version in 2008, Springpad has evolved from a digital filing system focused on niche areas like cooking and parenting to a personal organizer/assistant, and now a content-sharing platform. Along the way, the company has found the concept of a “smart notebook” to be its key organizing principle. The new version of Springpad seems like a natural evolution of its advances in recent years—which include pulling in data from outside sources (like Netflix, Amazon, and OpenTable) to help drive purchases, as well as integrating with Facebook “likes” and check-ins to help users connect with their social network.

But let’s step back for a minute. With their new app, Chow and Janer are, in effect, talking about slicing the social graph along an entirely different axis. Instead of following certain people (who don’t share your tastes in all things), or getting bombarded by a never-ending stream of tweets, updates, ads, or stories (call them what you want), users of Springpad now can navigate the digital world by their topics of interest—with help from people who share those interests.

The deeper idea here is that of stripping out time from the … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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