Right now in the tech industry, there are several giants; Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Apple. These are the household names, the ones that most non-tech-savvy users know.
Of these five, only Apple, as far as I know, has resisted creating a Social Media site, mainly because they feel they don’t need it. Facebook and Twitter are what I consider the most popular social networks today, and Google added a Plus to their stable of products to bring a social dimension to their search.
Yes, you read it right. Microsoft has also gotten into the social game. Specifically, their social initiative is “an experiment in open search. That means your searches on So.cl are viewable by other So.cl users and will also be available to third parties.”
This is certainly interesting, as it’s a ratchet up from what happened last week.
You see, on May 15, 2012, Bing rolled out Social Search, adding a social component to its usual search engines. According to PC World via Forbes, Bing now lets users ask their Facebook friends from within a search results page questions, so you’d get advice from friends to supplement whatever the search engine spit out. If you’ve used Google Search Plus Your World, it certainly looked like Microsoft had lifted the concept, though not the execution, from Google.
The next day, on May 16, 2012, Google announced that it was rolling out Google Knowledge Graph, adding a side bar that presents bite-sized information about your search items. It works for books (try A Series of Unfortunate events), places (see: Taj Mahal) and even people (e.g. Gina Trapani and Tom Merritt). Note though, that they are still in the process of rolling it out, and some computers may not see the Graph (I can see it on my home computer but not the office. Weird).
And it just gets better. Today, May 22, 2012, about a week after launching Bing Social Search, Microsoft has opened so.cl to public sign-ups. If you log in via your Windows Live account you’ll get in immediately. If you log in via Facebook, you’ll need to wait a bit (this was tested by a friend who used the Facebook login and got the notice that he was on the waiting list whereas I signed in on Windows Live about 2 hours and got in immediately).
So what does So.cl look like?
I’m not following anyone yet, but I’m seeing, in general, everyone’s search results. I also did a search for geminianeyes, and I got far more than I expected. Assuming that So.cl searches are powered by Bing, I’ve realised that it doesn’t just search for keywords; it looks for links as well, so among the things that were turning up in my search reults were places where I had commented and left my http://geminianeyes.com as the website in the comment field.
Um. No. If this is what other people will see when they search for me on Bing, I want no part in it. I would prefer my comments to appear to me, and not to any third party.
So.cl also has a feature called “Video Parties”, where you can watch “videos” with your friends. This seems to be a direct lift from Google Plus’ Hangouts feature, which lets you watch videos from YouTube. Hilariously, the first thing I see in the Video Parties is Youtube. However, there doesn’t seem to be any voice/video camera chat, only text chat, so it’s more reminiscent of those SMS chat while watching TV schemes you see on Astro and local Malaysian TV,
The only thing Bing is doing differently is that it’s showing off your search results to everyone logged into the network. Once you’ve done your search, you can click on stuff to add it to your post, which then gets posted to the stream. You can switch this feature off by clicking the Globe in your search bar to switch it to private.
What you search in Bing and other search engines are still private, but So.cl basically works on the basis that you want everyone to know what you’re searching for.