NewHive: A Social Place for Expression

In an online world of many competitors and copycats, it’s rare that a startup launches a truly novel service – yet that’s just what NewHive has done. The developers of NewHive wanted to fill a gap among existing social platforms that limited the creative expressions of their users to structured templates. Furthermore, they wished to subvert an oft-overlooked new media paradigm favoring programmers and disadvantaging average Joes, which until now has planted a barrier between those average Joes and the realization of their creative potential.

NewHive is both a social network and a creation engine for Web 2.0 content. Users create pages called “expressions,” which can contain a wide variety of elements and media types. Other users can interact with expressions: one can “love,” “broadcast,” and comment on an expression. On NewHive, you don’t have “friends” or “followers”; you have “listeners.”

newhive-expressions

When you go to create a new expression, you are literally faced with a blank canvas. On the right side are your tools: insert text, insert images, upload audio, embed objects, draw, and upload files. These six options can take you far. There is also a switch to toggle the grid display to help you align your elements on the page.

newhive-tools

One of my favorite tools is Sketch, which you’ll find by hovering over the intersecting square and circle icon. Sketch uses Mr. Doob’s harmony_sketch.js library to provide a procedural drawing interface. Some of the included brushes even respond to the speed of your drawing gestures. If you have a drawing tablet, get ready for loads of new-fashioned fun!

newhive-sketch

While Sketch doesn’t formally support layers in the Photoshop sense of the word, you can create your own layers simply by placing Sketch boxes on top of one another. The background of each box is transparent by default. You can also adjust the opacity of your Sketch boxes by clicking the eye icon below. In fact, NewHive lets you adjust the opacity of other types of content too, even embedded objects.

Speaking of which, embedding is another fantastic feature of NewHive. With iFrames, you can make a limitless range of expressions, from private spreadsheets containing critical data …

newhive-spreadsheet

… to interactive HTML5 worms that, when dragged and shaken with the cursor, begin flashing in a rapid sequence of blindness-inducing, psychedelic patterns:

newhive-shake-vigorously

While much of the content on NewHive is fun, experimental, or abstract, you can use the same tools to design what most would consider a “professional” Web presence, such as this landing page for a résumé:

newhive-resume

NewHive’s interface is intuitive enough that a small child could make an expression, and at the same time it offers incredible flexibility for advanced users, designers, and developers. Expressions can be linked together to form linear or non-linear narratives, and you can easily grab the embed code for an individual expression if you want to post it on an external site – or even within another expression.

I contacted Zach Verdin, one of NewHive’s original masterminds, to ask him a few questions about the project and where it’s headed. The following is what he had to say:

Q: What development platforms and tools are you using to run the site?

A: The site is built using Python, MongoDB, and JavaScript. We host the site using Amazon’s cloud services.

Q: Is there a mobile app in the works?

A: Yes, that’s coming next year. People will be able to do everything they can do on the site now, on mobile, with some added delight.

Q: What are you guys working on behind the scenes, and what can users expect from NewHive in the near and distant future?

A: Expect improved discoverability, content creation, and some more tricks up our sleeves forthcoming in V2.

Q: Have you ever thought about releasing the code as open source so that people can host their own NewHives? (No pressure, just curious.)

A: Yes, this is something we’ve discussed, but it’s currently not on our road map. We don’t have high demand for this at the moment.

Q: How does the site pay for itself with no ads?

A: We are now backed by some of the best investors in Silicon Valley. We want to empower creatives by providing tools that help people amplify their work and express themselves. Things like redirecting hives to separate URLs/personalization, a marketplace where users can sell digital content, patronage/e-commerce, etc. are all things that we’re considering for monetization of the site moving forward.

As NewHive is still in its beta phase, you need an invitation to join. But fear not! We’ve got you covered. Just follow this link to create your account:

https://thenewhive.com/signup?key=mOe7eM7n4gELbFZ-

After signing up, explore, make some expressions, and let us know what you think of NewHive!