It really surprises me that more political figures and celebrities have not taken Obama's lead and created functional social networking sites that engage users and allow for not only greater transparency, but also general likeability of its moderator.  Leave it to a standup comedian to design a site capable of doing both of those things.

Aaron Karo began writing his monthly column over a decade ago, when he emailed his comedic musings (which he called ‘ruminations') to 20 or so of his closest friends.  Now, the comedian has become quite a success, boasting appearances on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, two books, and subscribers to his column from all over the world.

In August 2008, he launched a new website which aims to unite his fans (and new fans) by allowing them to submit their own ruminations.  The site is awesome in its simplicity.  After signing up for a user account and doing the generic social networking tasks (i.e. uploading a profile picture, typing in some data about yourself), you are allowed to ruminate on any topic of your choosing, trying your best to emulate the genius of the comedian.

You might think that this would result in chaos, but the site has moderators that screen each rumination entry before it's published on the site.  It results in a lot of intelligible and well-written musings as opposed to cussword filled rants.

The site takes a lot of the best parts of other Web 2.0 sites and puts them together.  Users are allowed to rate something "gourmet" which is similar to digging it; users can become "fans" of other users, essentially getting an RSS feed of their latest ruminations.  Users also have the option to receive email every time that one of their writings gets a gourmet rating or someone becomes a fan of them.  It's a nice little pick-me-up during the middle of the day to know that someone somewhere thinks that you are funny. Home Page

Beyond the thought-out tools on the site, the site also excels at being simple, clean, and well organized.  Colors are not overused, and the presentation is easy to read.  It's everything you need in a site like this, without anything superfluous.

Perhaps the best aspect of this site is that it accomplishes the goal set out by anyone who starts a personal social networking venture: it connects the star to his fans.  Karo routinely rates user ruminations, comments on them, and sends them the occasional email when he finds something particularly funny.  He also includes a ‘bonus rumination' in each of his monthly columns to ensure that he is attracting his fans to the site.

Overall, it's a well-designed, thoughtful, and fun site from which politicians and other celebrities could learn.  I'm impressed.

UPDATE: It was recently announced that the one problem with the popular site (the sometimes slow load times) has been remedied thanks to the move to a new server.  Well played.