The Waltham, Mass.-owned company, now owned by South Korean company Daum Communications Corp., released a test version of the new site at the DigitalLife conference in New York City on Wednesday.
Called Circles, the site lets users share a variety of things, including text, photos, video and audio clips and greeting cards. The signup is free.
The Circles interface allows a surfer to define multiple groups of acquaintances. What the user shares with each group can be established independently of the other groups, or can overlap more than one group.
Other Circles features allow online polls, the sharing of snapshots and online invitations.
Making the Circles announcement during DigitalLife’s media days, Lycos plans to add new features to Circles, such as a photo printing service in conjunction with Shutterfly Inc. and the ability to share playlists and download music.
Lycos is relatively late to the game with the social-networking business model. Friendster.com, Tickle.com, Tribe.net and Orkut.com have been around for a year or more.
But the social-networking business model hasn’t taken off strongly.
A study earlier this year found that only 19.2 percent of web surfers have ever visited a social networking site, according to Burlington, Mass.-based Burst Media. That survey, which polled 9,200 surfers on their web habits, found that of those respondents, slightly more than half (50.5 percent) actually registered and joined these sites.
Men were slightly more likely than women to say they have visited a social-networking website (21.7 percent vs. 16.7 percent). But women are more likely to register and join (53.3 percent vs. 47.9 percent).
Those under the age of 24 are most likely to say they've visited a social-networking site, the study said, with 26.8 percent saying so. Among those 55 and older, 10.4 percent said they have visited a social-networking website.
Jupiter's own report found that only 32.7 percent of online users are interested in using online social networks, and only 6.2 percent of online users say they want to use online social networks to find dates. It also found that 21.3 percent look for dates on dating sites.
DigitalLife begins today through Sunday at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.