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Lifeables wants to help you sort through the social media chaff to save the most memorable stuff

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 20, 2012 02:45 PM

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Social media has evolved into an endless parade of significant moments, trifling snippets, and everything in between. A Boston start-up called Lifeables wants to help you cull the most important memories from that parade and stash them away in a digital scrapbook. Last week, the company started an open beta test of its service — which so far is entirely free.

Lifeables is focused at first on parents (and moms, more specifically.) You start it off with some basic profile information about your kids. Then, it lets you upload and organize photos and videos of your own, but more importantly, it lets you plug in to social networking services where you and your family already likely share pictures: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram right now, with plans to support others (like YouTube and Flickr) in the future. The Lifeables software can look at the stream of content in your social networks and label it as "things we're pretty sure are about your kids" and "things we think are about your kids." You then tell it that you want to "collect" a photo or video or status update for your digital archive, or ignore it.

Once you've decided to stash something, you can give it a title and add additional details. You also collect the Facebook comments about that item, but Lifeables will also allow you to invite non-Facebook users in your family to add more.

"We don't think this displaces the act of posting pictures from your mobile phone to Facebook," says Lifeables CEO Karen Macumber. Instead, "we want to be the ultimate collector for you, pulling the content from the sources that are most relevant and important to you." In one sense, Lifeables offers you a way to "sequester" the content that matters most, storing it for posterity, but in another it lets you organize and annotate your family's content and then share it again on social networks.

Macumber says the start-up hasn't yet decided how it might charge for a premium version of the service — perhaps when you want certain design options or surpass a certain storage level. But Lifeables does have plans to offer ways to create photobooks, t-shirts, and mugs with the content you collect.

Lifeables was founded in 2010 by Jeremy Daly, who now serves as chief technology officer. Macumber says the company has raised nearly $200,000 from individual investors, and is now out trying to raise more. "It's challenging having a consumer play on the East Coast," Macumber observes.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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