Earlier this year, Digg founder Kevin Rose announced he was launching a new incubator, called Milk, to develop mobile apps. Today, at Web 2.0, he introduced the first of those, Oink, which he described as a tool that lets people "rank, compare, and share things, but not places."
Whereas sites like Yelp let people rate entire estabilshments, Oink lets you rate things within an establishment—like a particular dish or feature (balcony seating). The information can then be used by other people when they're trying to decide where to go: Want to go to the place near you with the best chocolate chip cookies, for example? Search Oink for rankings for chocolate chip cookies.
Oink is one of a category of new apps that are blowing up our conventional notion of how a guidebook should work. Citysearch and Yelp are simply digital versions of a Fodor's or Better Business Bureau—sites that enable people to find reviews of entire entities: restaurants, museums, and mechanics, for example.
Yelp, of course, took that further. Whereas traditional guidebooks were compiled by a publisher, Yelp really gave a voice to the people. Suddenly everyone could become a reviewer.
But Oink, along with sites/apps like Pinterest and Trover, are atomizing all of that. Why should you only be able to get reviews of entire places, when what you really want to know is: Who has the best pasta primavera in my neighborhood?
Oink, like Pinterest and Trover, is also going to accellerate the idea of the individual as tastemaker. People who contribute ratings will themselves be ranked. Individual users will become known as the best authorities on individual items, like tea or fish dishes.
That, said Rose, will introduce a new level of granularity for local commerce. Local businesses will be able to identify not only who their existing customers are but who the influencers are and can target them with special offers.
Oink is not yet open to the public, Rose said, but will be adding more testers by invitation only in the weeks to come.