I have to thank ‘Anonymous’ commenter who left this very direct and very true comment on my last post:

Lot’s of I’s. I this , I that, …

Why not use the readers of this blog for a pre-launch and ask *them* for instance if the obvious flaws are acceptable or not. bottomline, ask for help to validate a go-live.

I was so scared of releasing my baby into the world when I wasn’t sure it was mature enough. I am like a strict Mediterranean mother unwilling to let her 17 year old daughter out past 10pm, as she surely isn’t ready for that kind of exposure. (and yes, I was that 17 year old, surely I would have learnt!)

But the truth is, releasing to you – dear readers – is the equivalent of letting my 17 year old daughter out with a trusted chaperone. So, I think I can cope with that.

So, with a little fanfare (ta-daaaaaaa), here is my baby given birth.

Its called Skimbit – www.skimbit.com

I’m dubbing it a social decision-making tool. Its a web application geared to helping you make group decisions, like organising a group holiday, picking bridesmaid shoes for a wedding, or deciding which plasma TV to buy.

Instead of copying and pasting URLs of sites you like into an email and sending it around to friends for feedback, Skimbit automatically skims the best bits (thus the name) of a site you like via a bookmark or button in your browser. It does this by grabbing the title, description and picture from a site (you can alter the selections), and then allowing you to input the decision-making criteria, ie. price, location, number of rooms, etc.

Skimbit then automatically builds a webpage for you with all your research results presented in a manner that makes it easy to analyse and compare. And we provide tools to help you with this, ie. you can sort your findings by price and location, or you can filter your results to show all findings that have 3 bedrooms and are pet-friendly, for example.

When you are ready to share with friends, Skimbit will email your friends inviting them to give feedback. There are four ways friends can give feedback to your project, you can pick one or more of them. Rating (1-5 stars), ranking (1st, 2nd, 3rd..), polling (thumbs up or down) and comments. Friends can also add to your project, thereby helping you out with research.

Skimbit then aggregates the feedback, and graphically represents it. So ratings are represented by different sized stars, the bigger the star, the higher the average rating. Rankings are represented by a horse race, the horse closest to the finish line is the one with the highest average rank. And so on… its a fun way to help make a decision, in a fair and equitable fashion!

Finally, Skimbit offers a set of tools to help you act on your decision. The default tools are a notepad (for writing notes, instructions, bank details, etc), a tasklist (packing list, to-do, invite list), a map (for plotting where something is) and a MeeboMe IM widget for instant conversation between friends working on a project together. You can also add other widgets that are relevant to your project, ie. a YouTube video of something related to your project.

So thats it! Its working pretty well, but still some emails addresses don’t receive emails, it hasn’t been fully tested in Safari, a few other biggish bugs… and its pretty slow, we are still optimising things further so they run faster. But if you like, give it a go, and tell me what you think. Is it ready for release yet?