The easiest way to understand eSimon is to liken it to the digital version of a bazaar.

With roots going back thousands of years, the sprawling bazaars of South East Asia and the Middle East are icons of flourishing commerce. They seduce visitors with their abundance and intimacy, and imbue shopping with the excitement of discovery. The fact that a lot of goods change hands in them has as much to do with heady experience as household economics. The same can be said of eSimon, which takes design cues from the bazaar to make browsing images and links a richer experience, and to set itself apart from other social networks or shopping sites.

On the surface, eSimon is endlessly explore-able, presenting users with multiple avenues to venture down. Clicking on a Card gives you several options for related content: you might pursue other Cards from the same Deck, other Decks from the same Community, or items followed by like-minded users, and so on. Like the bazaar, eSimon has no dead ends, but reveals new pathways with every additional step.

Along the way, visitors can engage in collections from different kinds of curators. eSimon affords access to two kinds of collection: content assembled by people a user is following, and content assembled by strangers with a shared interest. This is in contrast to networks like Facebook, which is only about the former, or special-interest sites that focus on the latter. Together, these modes allow users to sample personality and expertise to their liking, making forays beyond their circle of comfort and lowering resistance to novel offerings. This also mimics the duality of an active bazaar, which is familiar and challenging, social and serious — a place where one forms relationships with reliable sellers, but also hopes to encounter the exotic.

Above all, eSimon values engagement over speedy transaction. In the bazaar, the most successful stalls aren’t the ones with sellers hawking deals to maximize turnover, but those inviting browsers to step in, examine the goods, and develop a desire for them, even if it means coming back later to buy. Time-shifting the act of curation defuses the sense of urgency that permeates most social media — again, enabling a user to move into a purchasing mindset.

Where other social media push, eSimon pulls.