Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the wildly successful
Facebook.com, a new means of online student networking and
procrastination was officially unveiled last night at a launch party in
the Mt. Auburn Street bar Daedalus.
CampusTap.com enables Harvard e-mail account holders to share
ideas, communicate events, and increase campus-wide discussion through
intricately linked blogs.
The website is the brainchild of Harry I. Ritter ’06, Adam J.
Katz ’07, and Jeremiah L. Lowin ’07. If the blog-based venture is
successful, it could spell doom for the large e-mail lists and
list-servs that CampusTap’s creators call “incredibly inefficient and
messy ways of communicating.”
More than 100 unique blogs had been created in advance of the
CampusTap launch. Among them were the serious—including an Institute of
Politics and a Curricular Review blog—but also the curious, such as a
“Mary Poppins Wannabe” discussion site.
When Harvard.edu account holders complete the free
registration process, they are given their own home page that features
everything from a personalized daily planner to highlights of blogs
that have recently mentioned their name. A “Blogcrastinate” button at
the top of every page swiftly diverts the user to a completely random
blog, and a “Campus Chatter” feature identifies the most common words
and phrases showing up in posts. Just before the official launch,
“campus chatter” was preoccupied with outgoing University President
Lawrence H. Summers, Chuck Norris, and “Angelina Jolie’s bare breasts.”
“The idea is to develop a vibrant conversation on campus,”
Ritter said in a pre-launch interview. “This is a place in the virtual
world just for Harvard.”
Ritter and his team were ecstatic about the good fortune of
their launch timing. As national news organizations and students
scoured the Internet for information on the outgoing University
president, CampusTap was booming.
“Summersville,” currently CampusTap’s most popular blog,
demonstrated the new technology’s capability as it assembled dozens of
student comments, news articles, and even “Larry’s farewell” photo
albums. The blog received mention in the Washington Post-owned online
magazine Slate yesterday afternoon.
Without divulging specifics, Ritter suggested that the CampusTap team was already looking to expand beyond Harvard.
“Eventually this is something we think could be useful at other schools,” said Ritter.
A handful of student organizations had signed onto CampusTap at
its launch. Elizabeth M. Grosso ’08, communications director for the
Institute of Politics’ Student Advisory Committee, said the scheduling
and calendar tools of CampusTap could vastly improve her group’s
“As an organization that has dozens of events—even when we
have people interested—they may not remember when things are
happening,” she said.
Grosso also noted that the way CampusTap links related topics
across blogs could encourage “cross-pollination” among student
“If the site takes off, we certainly hope to pick up some
traffic from other groups that are relevant but may not know about our
events,” she said.
That, according to Ritter, is what CampusTap is all about.
“Harvard groups are isolated,” he said. “This campus needs a better way of sharing ideas and communicating news.”