Admittedly, I sign up for lots of web “social media” services. But I don’t sign up on far more than those I do. Sometimes I’m asked how I decide what shiny new web thing to register on.
Here’s how: I have to answer “yes” to at least two of the following questions.
Do I respect the judgement of someone recommending the site?
Is it something that seems “new” and not merely another version of something I already do?
If it is another version of something I already do, is there a compelling reason to have an alternative?
Is it something that relates specifically to a unique passion I have?
Is it something that challenges me to think in a new way?
Is it something that I believe will be of benefit — or perhaps, threat — to the clients I work with?
Is it something unique and different, but simple enough to be understood by people who aren’t geeks?
Here are a couple of things I’ve started playing with recently:
Glue: I’m actually very intrigued by the concept of Glue and believe it gives a glimpse of “what’s next” in the type of “social web use” I find most fascinating. Like “networking” sites, it utilizes the concept of “following” and “followers.” However, with Glue, you don’t go to a specific URL to check in with the actions and opinions of your friends — You discover them whenever you land on a web page about a book, movie, songs, TV shows, wines, stocks and gadgets any of your friends like, or merely have viewed. See, Glue is not a website, rather it is a Firefox “add-on.” Some fascinating things about the service: The item, a book for example, can be visited by one of your friends on any number of websites — Amazon.com, Powells, BN.com — doesn’t matter. When you land on any number of sites that sell the same title, your friend’s avatar shows up — a nice semantic trick. Like any networking thing, the service is more helpful the more people you know sign up. I don’t know yet, but it also may get a bit noisy when you start following too many. And as with any social networking service, you may want to follow different people for unique reasons — i.e., you may value someones taste in books, but not stocks or wines. However, those issues won’t become clear until enough people use it. Before signing up, I recommend you watch this screencast that does a great job demo’ing Glue. If you use Glue, follow me — I’m “rexhammock” there.
Loopt: Back in 2005, there was a company called Dodgeball that got acqhired by Google (actually, it was the transaction that inspired the term acqhire.) The concept had something to do with your mobile phone serving as a means for you discoverinh others you may know who are nearby. As I had neither the desire nor device to use the service, I decided it made no sense. (From the support they’ve given it, apparently Google didn’t either.) However, as I’ve become more fascinated with GPS-enabled devices, I’ve become a bit more warm to the possibility of having something that might alert me to an awareness of friends (or enemies, for that matter) who may be close-by. Loopt is sorta like that — with additional bells and whistles you can learn about here. I’ve just signed on.
Something common about both of these services. They both enable “passive” web activities — visiting a website, for example — to be social gestures. Glue, for example, doesn’t even require a user to “bookmark” something to share it — you just visit it. And Loopt doesn’t even require that. You just click an App button on your iPhone and your posse knows where you are. If Twitter is “micro-blogging,” then these services offer their users the opportunity to do some “Chance Gardner* blogging.”
*One of my favorite movie characters of all time. Chance Gardner is deemed brilliant by others — merely by his being there.