Plebsville 19.08.08

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Two years from launch, "Plebsville" has survived the flood of online social-networking. Based on the premise of Lee McCormack's book, "Designers are Wankers", the site offers a mix of web 2.0 features for design graduates; you can upload and share your portfolio of work, contact and message other Plebs and write blog entries on your profile.

"The idea was to create an online community to assist people trying to get into industry," says Robert Urquhart, site editor. "It is a global, neighbourly, drop-in centre for people." The site features professionals, such as Simon Waterfall and Julia Lohmann; graduates ("Plebs") can speak to "HUGO", the site's human search engine, and ask him to put them in touch with these "Gurus".

"The site is for people that have a desire to get on in the world, recent graduates; it provides a bridge for what happens after graduating," says Urquhart. Although, frustratingly, you can't browse through profiles with portfolios, and the majority of Plebs haven't made use of the features that could contribute to networking, creative or employment opportunities.

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Giving people the opportunity to join a “club” that differentiates them from the average web user could be appealing, but the usability and functionality needs to be good enough to sustain the concept. By skimming the surface of already ubiquitous web tools, the site doesn’t have enough of a pull to entice users away from MySpace, Facebook and portfolio database sites such as Creative Pool.

Urquhart does stress that Plebsville is run entirely by volunteers and has deliberately rejected advertising on the site: “We’ve focused on being a web community that prides itself on actually dealing with people, it’s more real and more friendly; it’s not a money-making or profit driven site. It’s very reachable.”

The site has created its own style with profile options such as “I'm a Pleb who’s blathering on” or “eating freelance pie”. You can list your future plans as anything from to “rocking steady” to “a nice cup of tea and a sit down”. So far there are 2607 Plebs and counting, but will this year’s graduates see merit in joining the site unless it catches up with the latest web technologies? Until then the Plebsville functions well as a contact hub, with links to people’s own web-pages.







Penelope Shaw

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The idea was to create an online community to assist people trying to get into industry

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