May 21, 2012
Microsoft Joins Social Foray With So.cl Search
Software giant Microsoft is quietly stepping into the social network game with its official launch of “So.cl” social search site, though the company states it isn´t designed to compete with the likes of Facebook or Google+.
So.cl was created with learning in mind. Microsoft´s premiere social search service is designed to explore “the possibilities of social search for the purposes of learning,” reports David Murphy of PCMag.“We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools. We hope to encourage students to re-imagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives,” Microsoft said on its So.cl FAQ page.
First launched in beta as an “experimental research project,” So.cl was only available to students studying information and design at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University. And while it is still considered an experimental project, the service is now open to anyone who wants to give it a try.
“FUSE Labs´ So.cl project is now accepting all users interested in joining the site,” a Microsoft representative told CNET's Steven Musil. “So.cl is an experimental research project focused on the future of social experiences and learning, especially among younger people.”
To join in, you need a Windows Live ID or you can use your existing Facebook account. Once logged in, users are presented with a variety of suggested topics of interest.
When you input a query into the top navigation bar, you are presented with a huge list of information and images relevant to the search. When you search, you gain the ability to tag information and pictures to a post that you create on your home profile. Searching also pulls up related posts that others have made, as well as the content they have found valuable enough to tag, or “pin.”
“As students work together, they often look for the same content, and discover new shared interests by sharing results. These results can be web pages, images, or videos found through Bing,” said Microsoft. “We see this trend today on many social networks, such as Twitter, where shared links spread virally and amplify popular content. So.cl experiments with this concept by letting you easily share links as you search.”
So.cl also has a “bookmarklet” feature, similar to Facebook´s share and recommend buttons, that adds a “Share on So.cl” button to users´ bookmarks toolbars, allowing them to share interesting sites with other users. Users can also “riff” on a post -- a feature that Microsoft describes as “a new way to interact and improvise with content.”
Another cool feature is the “video parties” option, which allows users to create a slideshow using videos instead of images. Videos play in sequential order, and fellow party-watchers are free to add new videos to the list and discuss what they are watching. They can also promote videos they want to appear in the play list, as well as skip videos they aren´t interested in.
And with the “Everyone” feed, users can see what all So.cl users are searching for and sharing.