WEB SITE WATCH
IN A MARRIAGE OF A FLEDGLING Internet venture and creative e-mail solicitation, OurSquare.com occupies a position in Harvard's e-commerce scene. Competing with sites like varsitybooks.com (online textbook sales), OurSquare offers a decidedly different product: unabashed elitism.
Billing itself as a "meeting place for inspired minds," OurSquare wants to be "the online community of the Ivy League." How do they tell if your mind is "inspired," you might wonder. They check with the Registrar's Office. In order to keep the on-line community suitably exclusive, members must be on record as a student or alum of one of the 17 schools OurSquare deems "inspired"--the Ancient Eight plus Amherst, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, Stanford, Swarthmore, University of Chicago, Wellesley and Williams.
If Harvard's extensive and powerful alumni network doesn't provide enough connections based on that framed admissions letter you keep under your pillow, OurSquare offers access to over 10,000 students and grads of elite institutions for conversation, networking and, of course, love. The site, which also goes by the name "The Square," features two membership options: regular and gold. The gold option, chosen by over 1,000 members so far, offers entry into online discussion groups (including such topics as "Banking," "Consulting" and "The Economist Magazine") and a ticket to romance in the OurSquare personals section--all for only $36 per year.
So far, Harvard affiliates account for almost 10 percent of OurSquare's membership, coming in just behind Penn and ahead of Cornell, Princeton and Columbia. If you want to join the thriving on-line "100 percent private" elite, don't delay--the OurSquare folks plan to "close the community" once 5 percent of their target market joins up, leaving a scant 75,000 spots available. Reserve yours before you're doomed to be an on-line commoner.