Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

U-M Friendster Launched

28. June 2004 • Rob Goodspeed
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The U-M Alumni Association launched today a friendster-like tool targeting University alumni called inCircle. The only catch? It’s for Alumni Association Members only, and now in beta testing:

We’re sending this special issue of e-TrueBlue: Recent Grads to announce the launch of inCircle, the Alumni Association’s brand-new professional and social networking tool.

inCircle lets Michigan alumni connect online with friends and friends-of-friends based on shared interests, common acquaintances, professions, location and other user-defined criteria. Now you can network with not just your own connections but with all the Michigan alumni your friends know, too. It’s like “six degrees of separation” just for Wolverines. You’ll be amazed at the number of valuable connections you can make and how fast your personal network will grow.

A network graph shows you how you’re connected and outlines the “shortest path” to other alums you want to meet. Uses of the inCircle network include finding roommates, meeting other alums who live in a particular city, joining discussion groups and finding a new job through a friendly referral. And, unlike online social networks that are open to the general public, inCircle is a private network exclusively for Michigan alumni.

InCircle is a free benefit for U-M alumni who are current members of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

To access inCircle, you will need a University provided uniqname and password, which are provided free to all U-M alumni. If you don’t have a uniqname and password, you can get one online.

To get started, go to http://incircle.umalumni.com.

We’re launching inCircle to recent graduates before it is available to the general alumni population. If you notice any problems or bugs with inCircle, please post them in the “Forum” section of the site so we can address them.”



  1. Do we really need any more Friendsteresque services? Ugh. I’ve reached capacity on these things.
       —Brandon    Jun. 28 '04 - 09:26AM    #
  2. Oh, cool, now I have a reason to join the Alumni Association. :p
       —Eric Goldberg    Jun. 28 '04 - 09:28AM    #
  3. IMO, this would be a great idea if it were free for all alumni. These things are only valuable when you have a lot of people using them. Basically, it’s a way to induce people to keep their contact information up to date for free—I’m not going to pay the alumni association for that privilege. Actually, I think the only Alum Assoc benefit I might pay for is keeping my uniqname (and since I’m currently employed by U of M, that’s a no-go for me). I’d probably use this if it were free, though.
       —Scott Trudeau    Jun. 28 '04 - 09:35AM    #
  4. Scott—good points on all counts. I agree.

    The Alumni Association membership requirement really seems to be an inducement to payola rather than a technical constraint. Hopefully the service will either open up a bit or go the way of my.umich.edu, dinosaurs, and the like.
       —Brian    Jun. 28 '04 - 10:24AM    #
  5. I sent a message to and received a reply from the director of marketing of the AAUM—she says she “understands” my reasons but disagreed and thinks it’ll be fine. Stanford and another school (forgetting) have already deployed inCircle for their alum assocs with the same members-only bent to relative success.
       —Scott Trudeau    Jun. 28 '04 - 01:50PM    #
  6. What is the definition of success in this case? Amount of cash raked in by the Alum Assoc., or number of people that get laid? It’s all relative. :)
       —Eric Goldberg    Jun. 28 '04 - 08:34PM    #
  7. It looks like you can send invites to non-alumni association members. Great way for the AAUM to get their members to do some recruiting for them. So (clearly) their “success” is “cash.” =)
       —Scott Trudeau    Jun. 29 '04 - 10:26AM    #