Microsoft's Social Network, Socl, Now Available to Public on Beta

Rachel Ramsey : Social Spotlight
Rachel Ramsey
Graduated from James Madison University with a B.A. in Media Arts and Design and a minor in Communication Studies
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Microsoft's Social Network, Socl, Now Available to Public on Beta

Microsoft is joining the social media game with Socl, a service where people connect over shared interests through collage posts that take only seconds to create.

Pronounced social, Socl began as an experiment in social search for students and learning at the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University, providing them with a platform on which they could share their common interests through pictures and links.

From the looks of it, Socl is a Pinterest-inspired network that allows you to create your own posts, which are displayed as collages, around common themes of interest with other users. Users with a Microsoft or Facebook account can join the beta version, which just became available to the public.

Image via Fuse Labs Blog

Just as “Like” and “Retweet" have become common language in social networks Facebook and Twitter, Socl comes with its own terminology. A “Riff” in Socl is a visual response to a post and can extend the original post in a way to continue a conversation visually. The home screen is made up of a feed of posts, which you can customize into two or three columns and see whether you are logged in or not. Other pages include Interests, People, Me and Parties. Interests range from music, food, tech and cars to math in nature, animals, music and entertainment. The parties section allows users to create a playlist and watch videos with other in Socl, and chat together as you watch.

Microsoft Research FUSE Labs is behind Socl, which works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop and deliver new social, real-time and media-rich experiences for home and work.

The Socl post creation experience is powered by Bing; it uses the public Bing APIs to display search results. When people want to express themselves on Socl, they look for great content on the Web and share the results in the form of a post collage. These results can be Web pages, images or videos found through Bing or found while simply browsing the Web and shared with the Socl community (the Socl bookmarklet makes this easy to do). Users can also share their own pictures using Sky Drive, and it’s possible to share items in Socl with Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari with browser add-ons.

So, the example used on Socl is creating a post about graffiti art. On the right, you search terms, powered by Bing, and select the image, video or article of choice to place into your collage post, which is displayed on the left.

Anyone can give Socl a spin by signing in with a Facebook or Microsoft account. The final version is forecasted to launch in 2013.
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