Microsoft seems to always be a step behind. They just launched a new social network for students that features many Google+ and Facebook features. So.cl, pronounced social, is being billed as a site for student collaboration and information gathering.
For now, Microsoft is calling it just an “experimental research project” and only making it available to students studying information and design at the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University.
You can currently add your name to the waiting list by logging in with Facebook. Ironic? Perhaps. But remember that Microsoft is a heavy investor in Facebook so I’d actually expect even more Facebook integration. Now, the big question: is there room for another social network? While Microsoft states (many times) that so.cl is not meant to replace any social network… it’s still a crowded space.
So.cl occupies an important niche (a social learning network similar to KnowU) so I’m definitely hoping for it to work out. Only time will tell. Here’s answers to questions you may have about the new network:
What is So.cl?
So.cl (pronounced “social”) is an experimental research project, developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, focused on exploring the possibilities of social search for the purpose of learning.
- So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.
- So.cl helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.
- To encourage interaction and collaboration, So.cl provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via “video parties.”
Microsoft expects students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools. They hope to encourage students to reimagine how everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.
Who can join?
Microsoft is formally partnering with selected schools (including University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University).
However, anyone can participate in the FUSE Labs research community as several of our experiments are available for use on the web. For those who wish to be more involved with FUSE, please e-mail [email protected].
In So.cl, how do I share a search?
By default, searches in So.cl are shared publicly. As students work together, they often search for the same items, and discover new shared interests by sharing links. Microsoft sees 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 automatically sharing links as you search. The So.cl search experience is powered by Bing, and they use the public Bing API’s to display search result data.
How does So.cl work?
The So.cl search experience is powered by Bing; Microsoft uses the public Bing APIs to display search result data. 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. They 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.
In So.cl, how do I create a rich post?
So.cl makes it easy to create a post you’re proud to share. Just find interesting images and links on the web, and So.cl helps you assemble them automatically into a compelling visual montage. To explore this concept further, try this related project Montage.
In So.cl, what is a video party?
Students spend time sharing videos. So.cl extends this concept by making it easy to share video parties, with So.cl friends who are online. Video parties let you search, and quickly assemble a list of movies to view together with friends. You can view any existing party collection created by any other So.cl user, or create your own, and easily chat with other So.cl users.
Is So.cl data public?
Yes. Unless you mark it as “private”, your search results, and any other data you post to So.cl may be viewed by all other So.cl users. In addition, Microsoft will make data that was publicly posted on So.cl broadly available for use by other entities and individuals.
For more information please read our Privacy Statement at http://www.so.cl/app/privacy. Public data enables new types of research and experimentation, a primary goal for So.cl.
Can I delete my data in So.cl?
Yes. You have options ranging from deleting a single item, search or post, to deleting all your history, or your entire account. The data you have deleted, however, may have been included in data sets shared with third parties. Deletion of your data from So.cl will not delete entries from such data sets. For more information please read our Privacy Statement at http://www.so.cl/app/privacy.
Does it cost anything to join?
No, So.cl is free.
Is So.cl a part of Bing?
No, So.cl is a research project from FUSE Labs in Microsoft Research that is focused on learning more about social search. So.cl uses Bing for search data via the public API, but it is not a Bing product.
Does my So.cl data appear on Facebook?
So.cl uses Facebook authentication, which means you use your Facebook account to log in, and your name and profile picture from Facebook appear in So.cl. By default Microsoft does not post any content from So.cl into your Facebook stream. If you choose, you can post content to Facebook using the share to Facebook feature in So.cl.
Why haven’t you added features commonly used in social networking and search sites such as: Facebook, Twitter, Bing, or Google?
So.cl is not meant to replace existing full-featured search and social networking tools. It is an experimental research project using a minimal set of features which help combine search with the social network for the purpose of learning.
Why are you targeting students?
Microsoft feels students are the best audience to evolve and discover more about the future of online social behavior.
Can So.cl be used more generally for people not focused on learning communities and academics?
So.cl can be used by the general public, but it is their goal to focus on learning communities.
What are the other social experiments that Microsoft is engaged in?
Other ongoing experiments include:
- Kodu: teaches kids programming and creativity on the XBox and PC
- Montage: creates a visual album of the web on the topics you care about
- Docs: lets you discover, create and share documents with your friends, coworkers, and classmates on Facebook
- or see more projects from FUSE Labs
These projects are experiments from Microsoft Research, and like other research projects, you should not expect that these projects will be supported by a Microsoft product team.