The internet bubble may have burst at the turn of the century, but the dot-com boom has just hit Harvard.
Enterprising undergraduates this year pioneered a handful of innovative social and networking websites intended to improve Harvard’s social scene, stoke students’ entrepreneurial impulses and even help students get a date.
In addition to appeasing the College’s procrastinators, purchasers and partygoers, these sites inspired similar ventures at other college campuses nationwide.
Of all these new projects, thefacebook.com—a social networking database for college students similar to Friendster—generated the most publicity at Harvard and beyond.
Launched to the campus Feb. 4, thefacebook.com has since expanded to 34 college campuses, including all eight Ivy League schools. Currently, it boasts over 150,000 members nationwide and includes self-registered profiles for over 90 percent of the undergraduate student body.
SPINNING AND SPAWNING
Before thefacebook.com took the campus by storm, an online entrepreneurial streak at Harvard was already underway.
CrimsonXchange.com, an auction website to help students search for everything from iPods to textbooks to furniture, was designed to allow Harvard students to quickly find and purchase items and evade the high prices at the Harvard Coop, said co-creator Sam W. Lessin ’05.
Another new website, Hahvahdparties.com, is a bulletin board and photo album which allows users to post invitations to parties or purchase photographs from events.
“Our first goal is helping the social scene,” said co-founder Zachary A. Corker ’04, adding that the University has not provided a venue for student clubs, fraternities or sororities to publicize their parties.
Hahvahdparties.com co-founder Paul H. Hersh ’04 said the advent of these websites offered direction for Harvard students looking for fun.
“You live in a confined sphere at Harvard,” Hersh said. “These sites provide an opportunity to expand your social ties outside of a small group of friends.”
Many believe that the popularity of student sites reflects an ongoing addiction of young people to the internet, because it serves as a social and practical tool.
Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis ’98 said he believes the popularity of thefacebook.com reflects a “generation-wide phenomenon.”
“It has been interesting for me personally to watch the integration of technology into students’ lives and overall experiences,” Davis said.