Microsoft Quietly Opens So.cl
We’ve talked about So.cl before, but Microsoft’s social project has officially opened to all users this past week. So.cl (pronounced “social”) shouldn’t be considered a social network; in fact, the website’s FAQ page identifies So.cl as an “experimental research project” developed by Microsoft’s FUSE labs.
The website functions as an image board powered by Bing, and in many ways it seems like a Pinterest/Google+ hybrid without trying to compete with any pre-existing networks. According to the FAQ, So.cl can be defined in three points:
- So.cl for anyone who has something to say – richly, simply, elegantly.
- So.cl helps you create rich stories (posts) by making it easy to assemble and share collages of web content
- So.cl helps you discover people with like interests, and discover interests shared by people you like
Here’s my So.cl exploration.
I was sent an email invite by Scott, but you can also sign in with Facebook or a Windows Live ID (although, according to PC World, you have to wait a few days for an invite email if you sign in Facebook).
After logging in, I was greeted with this welcome page:
It offered a selection of topics and interests to follow. The topics in the image were pre-selected and a bit random (nerd pride day?), but I’m assuming they were based on popular interests. After clicking “show more,” I was able to select less obscure interests, like movies, animated GIFs, and cats.
After I selected my interests, I used the topmost bar to search for “London, England” and suddenly got very confused. Bing returned images and other info about London, but I couldn’t figure out what to do from there. The layout is pretty, though!
It took me a little while, but I figured it out. I searched for “corgis” and discovered that I could add selected results to a post and publicly display my findings. Cool. Here’s a shot of my profile, which shows my recent corgi-related activity.
Your So.cl feed shows recent posts, which can be filtered into different categories ranging from the very broad “Everyone” to just people you follow. Check it out here:
This handy-dandy tool allows you to watch YouTube videos at the same time as other users and leave comments in real time. Video parties are based around the same subjects and users can add videos to the playlist or remove them.
So.cl isn’t trying to replace big-name networks like Facebook or Pinterest, but I really love the video parties and feel that a lot of its features are excellent tools for students. As it turns out, students were So.cl’s primary demographic before opening to the public, and I can see how its image boards can facilitate web research (and make it just as easy to share images of lolcats).
What do you think about So.cl? Share your thoughts in the comments!