Clearly everyone needs to know exactly what I think of all the restaurants, products, and books in my life. It seems like the new-new frontier — with applications like Oink, and now Stamped, taking up the challenge recently — is rating things online.

The concept is quite simple. If you like something, you rate it. If you rate it, your friends see it and then try it out for themselves. Stamped’s take on the rating things is simple: You either like something, or you don’t. You don’t have to rate something on some arbitrary scale. You can either put your stamp of approval on that cake you like, which is the equivalent of you saying it’s 5-star worthy, or do nothing at all.

Stamped from Stamped on Vimeo.

There’s even some game theory present in the application. You don’t get to rate everything you want; instead, users only get 100 stamps to start off with. If you use them up, you’re out of stamps. You can earn more stamps by being active in the community.

Great idea in theory, but…

The NYC and SF factor is not universal, yet

Remember Foursquare and GoWalla? They were huge hits in markets like NYC and SF, and eventually they got some traction in other major metropolitan areas, but what they never did was gain traction with the people I care the most about: my real friends and family.

The lines of friendship have blurred, and there are plenty of people that I’ve met online that have managed to make it into my social circles; however, that type of adoption is a rarity. I’m in a fairly large city (about 800,000+ according to a 2006 census), and guess how many people in my town have rated something on Oink? Two people out of 4,325 Twitter followers and 500+ Facebook friends. If this is what these ratings applications have in store, it’s clearly not going to cut it.

Most of us do not live in a major technological hub. I do, kinda. At least, at one point Ottawa garnered the label of Silicon Valley North, while Nortel was the next-big thing. While the tech-sector in this city has collapsed upon itself, the city still has a huge technology-inclined population, and yet, there’s little traction here for these social ratings applications.

These ratings apps are fantastic ideas. I would much rather take my friend’s recommendation on what to read or where to eat, but I think most people would rather ask someone in person or over the phone, at least in my social circles.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Stamped and Oink progress over the next year, but something tells me it’s going to be slow going for these companies unless you’re in New York City or San Francisco and you hang out with the popular tech-crowd.

I have a hard time seeing my friends using these kinds of applications for recommendations. What about you? Do you see it taking it off? Let us know in the comments.

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