So, I’m a bit obsessive over social media. I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Youtube, VIRB, Brightkite, Vimeo, Ustream, Qik, etc, etc, etc….you get the point.
So, it was obvious to me that “someone” is going to get rich when they sort out how to aggregate, organize and mass publish to all of these network from one place. All it takes is joining a few networks and actually trying to USE them and you quickly discover for yourself that it’s really too much for the human psyche to deal with. I became overwhelmed and just wanted to throw up my hands multiple times.
As a man of perseverance, I decided to take the issue at hand and take action on it. I have been researching, testing and surveying social aggregators, publishers and organizers for over 2 months and I wanted to take my findings up to this point in time, August 19th, 2009 to share with the rest of the class.
The Publishers: (Push content to the web)
Gluenow.com – (Web)
Billed as simple web & mobile publishing, Gluenow.com is the publisher of everyone’s dreams. It has a design both in brand and UI that is down right delicious and the functionality is strong too. The site is still in beta, but if you can get an invite I highly recommend taking this “pusher” out for a spin. I am going to continue watching this product to see how it comes along and feel like it has a lot of potential to become my go to publisher of the future as it adds more support and richer features. Again, still young, but extremely promising.
- (* More)
Ping.fm (They have had a lot of server issues lately i.e. – downtime)
The Aggregator / Double_Duty List: (Push & Receive content on the web)
FriendFeed – (Web) Recently purchased by Facebook, this web entity’s stock just went up (or down) depending on where you stand on the issue of an open web. Facebook has become infamous as of late for locking down it’s user-generated content and it remains to be seen how the acquisition will play out. To me, FriendFeed is a design and UI nightmare which I will inherently base a lot of my decision making on, because experience is important to me. The Friendfeed service is, however, one of the more functional of the publisher / aggregator hybrids. *IF you can figure out how the damned thing works.
Publish to / Read from:
- Gmail / Google Talk
- Google Reader
Tweetdeck – (AIR App / iPhone) Tweetdeck is the most-downloaded AIR App on the web. It allows for the reading / posting of your Twitter account and the reading *only of your Facebook account in addition to some filtering and searching capabilities for Twitter. Now, it even supports accounts so that you can save your searches and have them appear as extra panes in other instances of Tweetdeck such as their great iPhone app.
Feedalizr – (AIR App) Feedalizr runs in a scaled down AIR app that is designed on a fluid layout so you can scale it. I have to say there is something about Feedalizr I have not been able to put my finger on yet that just “bugs” me. I can tell you one thing for sure is that I am annoyed by the notification system that displays over the top of your display no matter if you hide Feedalizr or not. There may be a way to turn this off and I haven’t stumbled onto it, but it does bug me to get an animated alert every time I get new content in my feed. Because, when you are getting content across multiple social networks streamed to one feed…that’s a lot of damned updates.
On a more positive note, because after all it did make the list, it’s a very solid aggregator and publisher hybrid. Like the rest of the products in this post, I recommend taking it around the block and seeing if it solves your own personal needs.
- Friendfeed **This is a differentiator for this product. With the proper settings using FFeed as the backbone you can do it all here**
- Video **Sent through Friendfeed**
**One final note on this one, I can see how with the acquisition by Facebook and the odds of improvement based on that fact, Friendfeed eliminating this product.**
Skimmer – (AIR App) Created by Fallon, an ad agency in Minnesota, Skimmer is the Angelina Jolie of this bunch bar none. Talk about one sexy app! I have to say that it’s buggy & slow due to the rich media streaming (still in beta to their defense). It is very focused. It just so happens that it works really well for my “core” networks. The things I am the most active in that is. For me, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are the heavy hitters. I decided that I would give Skimmer a go for a while because of those facts. This “forced me” to leave behind MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. but those networks are either dying or just not necessary of constant monitoring and updating. This app is a designers heavenly dream, no doubt. I just drool over the interface and simplistic, minimal design every time I open it. Some things of note on this product are: 1. Export a great-looking ‘widget’ for embedding on the web of your stream, 2. For the visual, enjoy large photos and videos with ability to watch slideshows and live movies inside the app, 3. Flexible sizes for when you want it to be fullscreen or maybe you want a small draggable app. It works well, both ways.
The Organizers: (Now that you’ve splattered stuff everywhere. How can you organize it and create value?)
Storytlr – (Web) If you’ve already been using aggregators and publishers or even if you haven’t, Storytlr is a great way to pile all of your networks into one interface. This genre used to confuse me. At first glance you think, “Okay, why would I want to read a feed of ME talking about stuff?” Then you think “Oh, they must be trying to get everyone to convert to their service.” Which still could be the case, but Storytlr creates one nugget of value, that at least for me is worth coming back to, stories. Once you’ve pushed all of your content into Storytlr’s interface, you can create stories.
So, for example: on August, 14th I took my brother to a concert in Nashville for his birthday. Throughout our pre-concert drinking, at concert drinking, and post concert drinking ( heheh), I posted photos, tweets and status updates of our experience. Typically, these things would be lost to the 3-4 networks I was pushing to forever, lost in the internet ether if you will. Sure, they are there still, but not really corralled in one spot or searchable. Well, now they are with Storytlr. I took all of my posts from August 14th into Storytlr’s story builder and weeded out the one’s that didn’t pertain to the concert. *I even included people’s replies to me. Then I created my first story complete with tags so that I forever have that moment solidified. (As long as Storytlr sticks around anyway).
To me this is brilliant, because I’m tired of spending my time racing for narcissism with the rest of the social web world and having it dissipate before my eyes. Plus, the story approach really works more like traditional scrapbooking, so if you keep this in perspective it’s really fun and fast compared to that.
IF: If Storytlr starts to allow the publishing to outside networks (you can currently only publish into Storytlr) it will be the heavyweight winner over all of the aforementioned products. So, here’s to that. Plus, their interface is completely theme able which is nice.
- Google Reader
thismoment – (Web & iPhone ) Thismoment is also an online life organizer. This product is all about moments. Similar to the “stories” in Storytlr’s service you create moments on thismoment. They are one step ahead in that they have an iPhone app that is ready to go, which is very nice. Then it falls a step behind because it requires a little too much dependency on using it’s posting service to create moments. From the mobile app (which is important to me because mobile publishing is imperative) you can not truly create a moment if you intend to bring in media from Youtube, flickr, or facebook. You have to create it from what is available on your phone at the time. I can’t say that you can do this with anyone else’s service yet, so it’s really just a feature request more than a competitive weakness. They are still pioneering the technology. One definite positive to creating a moment on thismoment is that you are offered the ability to post the moment to Twitter and Facebook, so that you can alert friends and family to it.
- Twitter *nontraditional post
- Facebook *nontraditional post
I hope this post helps you. It has taken me a long time and a lot of research just to get to where I am right now. I will say this, I have not definitively made a decision either. I think it’s obvious the technology and software that supports it are still young and it could go either way. I will continue watching this market and try to update this post if new things come to light.
As great as Gluenow is, I have to say, I would prefer that publishers went completely away. The social nature of this medium requires 2-way conversation and it doesn’t enable me to be able to publish only. I would suggest to you all as I will be, searching for a strong aggregator / publisher in one that allows me to read, respond and post to my top networks.
Then, I intend to settle on a great organizer to help me pool those little fragments of my life over time into a chronological diary / scrapbook of sorts.
Feel free to distribute the image that I have created for this post. It is comprised of found imagery for the most part and is not meant to infringe upon or make any earnings from the work of others in the Design industry. I would ask that you link back to this article however.
If you’re still not satisfied, check out this list, but I warn you that I’ve already gone through it and you just read about the cream of the crop.