Thoughts on technology and social web

April 22, 2009

Social networks on desktop (and phones)

Filed under: Social Networking — Ravikant Cherukuri @ 4:57 am

Its getting tedious going to all these social networks to check friend statuses. If you are new to this, its a major pain point/barrier. I am used to a Instant Messaging client running on my computer and popping up for conversations. Looks like this paradigm could stretch to social networks as well. Recently I tried out different clients that do this for you. Some is a limited and simple way and some look to do a more complete integration. Its funny to see that these tools are getting some attention now. We kind of made a full circle from desktop to web 2.0 and back 🙂
Below is the list of clients and the good and bad I found in them.

Digsby
Neat Instant messaging like interface and support a whole slew of networks. The interface is simple and usable.
Social Networks : Facebook/Twitter/MySpace/LinkedIn
Instant Messaging : Windows Live Messenger/ Yahoo Messenger/Gtalk/AIM/Skype
Email : Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail/Pop/IMAP/AOL

This biggest down side is that they store your credentials for all these services on the server side. They do claim that they are stored in a way that cannot be compromised. But still, I am not a big fan of that. These credentials hold the key to our digital lives.

TweekDeck
Works for Twitter and facebook. Simple interface and limited functionality. But works for following your friends status feeds.

Seesmic
Works for twitter and seesmic networks. Not sure about facebook. Again a simple interface with limited features. Maybe this is all we need.

ScrapBoy
Similar to Digsby. An IM like interface. Supports Orkut/MySpace/Facebook.

AlertThingy
This is the most interesting client I found. Especially the friendfeed edition. Friend feed brings all the conversations your friends are having on the web to you. And AlertThingy gives you a desktop interface to that. Very powerful but a bit too complicated to see all that in one place for non-friendfeed users.

Yoono
This falls into the digsby category. nuff said.

Fring
I have been using fring for a month now. Integrates IM very well. with tweet.im and ff.im and a gtalk account, everything is delivered to your phone. But the interface sucks. My cell phone is not a desktop. The experience should integrate into my cell phone rather than simulate a desktop IM experience. Just my 2 cents.

There is still a lot scope for improvement here and i am sure there will be a lot more innovation. Compared to the IM evolution, the SN (Social Network) started with more open APIs thus removing the barrier of entry. New clients are free to innovate with access to a lot of SNs and so can instantly become useful. Compare that with the IM networks which did not evolve in that direction and as a result missed the bus on SN. Reminds me of the hard drive manufacturers in Innovators Dilemma.

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