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A Surfer in the Waves of Social Aggregation

Social aggregators – who are they, what are they and what do they want?

They want to eat your social network profiles and they are hungry. SocialThing! is an aggregator that helps speed up the process of checking every last social network you have signed up to in one easy to use web app.

What’s the problem anyway?

So you have joined 101 of the coolest social networking websites that have come out in the last two weeks in a vain attempt at pretending that you have more friends than you actually do. Wait, there is a problem…! It just took me until lunch time to check all of my social goings-on.

Let me paint you a picture with my imagination brush:

You get to work, your boss is on your back, he is all like “hey I want that spreadsheet ASAP”, you are all like “Ok, right away sir” whilst flipping the bird from behind your monitor in a child like passive aggressive fight the power kinda way.

You then have to check your emails and make that all important cup of coffee to pep you up for a day of servitude and mundane data input. You have to check your all important social networks to remind yourself that you have a life outside of work. Herein lies the problem! You don’t have time to sit there until 11:30 just to find out that the guy who used to give you wedgies at school has just added 20 new photos to “Bozza’s piss up in Faliraki”. What you do need is SocialThing!

Social Networks… not another one

Its ok, its not a social network don’t hit that close button just yet. Its a social network helping hand. A social network friend who helps carry your shopping from the car into the house. It combines all of your social profiles into one web app using a “river of information” style view.

As its relatively new only a few networks are available but as I mainly use pownce, facebook, twitter, flickr and a few others SocialThing serves me well. You can vote for other networks that you want on.

When you are presented with your wave of social activity those annoying people who twitter 20 times every hour are grouped together so they don’t monopolise your social pleasure. If you follow people on different socials networks, say you have the same friend who is on pownce and twitter it puts all their activity nicely together cross network.

The main interface is ordered by time so you can quickly see whats been happening in the last 24 hours across multiple networks in one click on one website. Simplicity personified.

Everything has its problems

There are a few other features that fade into insignificance against the main function of the app, like being able to post to more than one network at a time.

Reliability is an issue too. I had to reload SocialThing 8 times to get a screen shot which had pownce working. I hope these are all teething problems because a service as good as this one could be brought to its knees with stupid niggly issues like this. Social spam and network availability aside its a good little package.

One side effect I did not expect from SocialThing is that I ended up using my social networks more. My initial thoughts were “yeh I can see them all, will never bother going to the actual website again”. The RSS syndrome, where you only read a sites content in your RSS reader but never actually go to it. The reality of it was quite the opposite. Points lost to my productivity.

Private beta nightmare

Why launch a product if you don’t want anyone to use it. Well I know you all think it so I went and said it. I do know that there are many reasons to do this. A lot of the time it’s valid but it does frustrate me… I want to play with that new thing!

With the kind of problems twitter has been having lately I would hope that new super social sites have got there scaling and redundancy in order before they meet critical mass and steam roll there hosting companies into the ground. So private betas are ok, I suppose.

I have some beta invites if anyone needs one, drop me a tweet or a pownce or a comment or contact me in any other social way possible and I will hook you up.

Go Forth and socialise.

Update 20/06/08

SocialThing 2.0 has been release and it looks very nice. They have overhauled the interface and added a few new networks and features. Still a little slow at times! Let me know what you think of it.


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