Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have built large communities of users by giving people tools to build customized Web sites and then share some of that information with friends.

Now, a Seattle startup led by former Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com engineers is looking to carve out some territory in the fiercely competitive sector with a new service called Blue Dot.

Expected to debut today at the Gnomedex conference in Seattle, Blue Dot wants to take the social networking concept to the next level by helping individuals share news stories, videos and other Web content with small groups of friends or larger preset communities. It also wants to help people discover more relevant information - say good sushi restaurants in Seattle or honest auto mechanics in Tacoma - by allowing them to search recent recommendations of friends or family.

Blue Dot's Kabir Shahani, whose title is listed as Dot Connector, calls the idea behind the company "social discovery." What he means by that trademarked phrase is that people can use the service to tap the knowledge of their friends or family.

Get the full story at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer