The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
Instagram

bLookn offers, expands Facebook features

While accessing his bLookn account from his apartment on Rosedale Avenue, Nick Westerman, a sophomore at SMU, can see everyone who is using wireless networks in his area.

“Facebook stalking has been taken to a new level,” said Liz Franco, also a sophomore.

Facebook gave access to its users to share information; bLookn has taken that further by revealing users who are in the same general area.

A profile giving information on the user’s hometown, birthday and Greek affiliation (among other things) sits central to bLookn. The ability to control what appears in the profile, and what is visible to others, are both very appealing to users. Members can also include a photo of themselves.

bLookn used SMU students to launch the site and promoted it on the university’s campus. Will Bunker and Dan Owen started up the Web site at SMU. Bunker is the founder of Match.com, an online dating community. Owen was on the founding team of Spectravision, a hotel movie rental company. Bunker was aware SMU had a strong following of Facebook users and thought the school was a great place to begin. Since its inception, 22 campuses have signed up for bLookn, with a total of more than 250 members.

bLookn is an online community for students attending a four-year college that provides information about, and to, its users. The information, selected by the users themselves, connects people. Found at www.bLookn.com, the Web site creates a social network that allows students to communicate by sending messages and e-mails in real time.

What differentiates bLookn from other online communities, such as Facebook, is its ability to show the real time location of its users. A user creates an account by going to www.bLookn.com. Participating students must have an “.edu” e-mail address, and once it is provided, one has to access his e-mail to gain access to the network. Once activated, the account uses a “friend radar” to view the profiles of those around him.

Searching for members is broken up into three categories: Near Me, Live Now and My School. “Near Me” shows students who are close to the user’s wireless connection. This identifier, though, shares a secure network.

“It cannot be used as a tracking device because it does not know your location. It just knows what WiFi card your computer is viewing,” McLamore said.

Adding to bLookn’s real-time advantage is the ability to see other members who are “Live Now,” as the site calls it. When another member is online, that member is shown in the “Live Now” section.

“You’re able to see other students that are online nearby in real time, which hopefully will get students to meet up face-to-face,” McLamore said.

In order to garner more users, the Web site ran a competition on SMU’s campus. The sorority house with the largest number of bLookn users received $1,000, for its philanthropy project. The Kappa Kappa Gamma house won the two-week competition, which ended shortly before Spring Break.

The Web site is also promoted by a group of student foot soldiers for bLookn. This group forms a management team that promotes bLookn through word of mouth. Sterling McLamore, an SMU student who is passionate about bLookn’s success, spearheads the operation.

bLookn has two groups on Facebook that send messages and e-mails to the members about bLookn and include instructions on how to sign up. The operators of bLookn believe they can use Facebook to promote their Web site, but emphasize that they are not trying to be just like Facebook. McLammore believes that bLookn is “taking social networking to a new level.”

“While Facebook allows its members to create large profiles and share information, bLookn has a new and different purpose; it will help members locate friends in real life and in real time,” McLammore said.

The company is counting on that difference for financial success in the future. bLookn has yet to turn a profit, but the founders are hopeful.

“When we get enough users we will advertise for our sales,” McLamore said. “We met with Yahoo! last week and are considering outsourcing our ad model to them.”

bLookn has an ability to provide advertisers with a prime target audience: college students. The bLookn founders know bLookn has its finger on the pulse of the communication between college students. They are also looking ahead, said McLamore.

“We are actively developing additional features to make the service more exciting for students,” McLamore said.

More to Discover