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8apps takes social networking to the next level

Social networking sites have become an increasingly popular way for people to connect professionally but, once you've added someone to your contact list, what then? 8apps is one of the first sites we've seen that answers that question. It goes beyond just connecting people and actually gives them tools to develop whatever brainstorms happen to come up once they get to know each other.

Like other social networking sites, 8apps brings like-minded people together, but then it takes the concept a step further by offering tools to help shape the ideas that take root between members. Wikis offer the same collaborative tools as 8apps but start from the premise that all the users already know each other. 8apps puts the horse before the cart and helps you meet people, then develop a project together.

After completing the very simple sign-up process, find members by searching for groups or individuals in the Handshake section of the site. Map out your big idea in Blueprint, a virtual whiteboard that works a bit like a mind-mapping tool. Next, break down projects and assign tasks with Orchestrate. If your group decides that a face-to-face meeting is in order, use the Pinpoint map and scheduling tool to find your real-world middle ground.

While the four remaining applications are still under wraps, this new site is still useful even though it's technically under development.* It also has an outstanding, beautiful, and intuitive interface that makes navigation easy and painless.

While the world might not need Yet Another Social Networking Site, it does need a way to corral all those brainstorms between members so the ideas have a chance to grow up and become -- who knows? -- Yet Another Social Media Tool. 8apps is just the ticket.

*Note: As we were preparing this post for publication, we learned that the creators of 8apps have just put the site up for sale. Although further development has been temporarily put on hold, the site is still fully functional, and there are still private invites available. Want to know how you can score one? Stay tuned.

Tags: 8apps, beta, collaboration, group, mind-mapping, networking, social networking, wiki