As if Harvard students needed more ways to procrastinate, Teymour Shahabi '06 recently launched Dantoon, a site that he calls "the world's first search engine of thoughts."
If you ever wanted to Tweet, Facebook, Digg, blog, e-mail, and FML all in one post, Dantoon is the place to do it. The social networking site, open only to Harvard students for now, was originally launched on Nov. 11 but redesigned and relaunched last weekend with a new home page. Find out how it works after the jump.
Each post begins with a subject line, like an e-mail, and follows with a boundless (as far as Shahabi knows) text entry box, like a blog post. You can post anything from a 140-character rant to a manuscript-in-progress. Unlike FML, it's not monitored except for potential spam that is flagged by other users. Shahabi says to think of it like YouTube, but for written content.
The idea came to him while he was a sophomore at Harvard, when he wanted to delve into the world of opera appreciation (yes, opera) but didn't know where to start. Shahabi said he was looking for an online repository of thoughts but could only come across the occassional useful blog post or two if he was really lucky.
This was an urgent problem. He really needed to find opera that people like him enjoyed listening to.
"I met a girl who was an opera singer," he said, "[so Dantoon] literally came as a need." See? Urgent.
The story behind the name is much less romantic. Actually, there is no story. Rather, there was only a list of criteria. The name had to have no preexisting meaning, it had to be easy to spell, it had to have the potential to be a verb, it could be no longer than two syllables, and so on. After spending many months putting random syllables together, Shahabi came upon "Dantoon."
What we find interesting about Dantoon is the optional "type" quiz that you can take upon registering. Here's one of the twelve questions: "If you ruled the world, your parties would be a) big, friendly, and fun, or b) social obligations and nothing more."
In the end, the user is assigned one of 16 Dantoon types (think Myers-Briggs, sort of) based on what he or she values. These types then help you find others who value the same things you do.