Microsoft is joining the increasingly crowded social media market, recently going public with So.cl. Not to worry — this is not Microsoft’s attempt to take on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.
So what exactly is So.cl, pronounced social? In short, it’s a social network geared at helping students interested in social media. Microsoft describes it as “a research experiment for students focused on combining web browsing, search, and social networking for the purposes of learning.”
Using search functions powered by Bing’s API, So.cl encourages students to search for topics and then create montages of the visually rich web content. The links are automatically shared as you search, in case there are other students looking for the same thing. You can also have “video parties,” which “let you search, and quickly assemble a list of movies to view together with friends.” (Those friends are other online So.cl users.)
It is currently only available to college students in information and design schools at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University.
“These are not just computer-science students, but also business, design, or humanities students,” Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, told the Microsoft Research blog. “They don’t necessarily write code, but they can be encouraged to reimagine how social software and the way people are sharing and exchanging information shapes the world. We are experimenting with So.cl to use our own tools to partner with more students and learn from students with a broad base of expertise.”
The site, which was created by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, went public on Dec. 15, according to the Microsoft Research blog, but is not live yet. You can join the waiting list for an invite via Facebook.
So.cl has been designed for students studying social media to extend their educational experience and rethink how they learn and communicate. They can build posts with many elements—photos, video, text, and more—and share them with colleagues. They also can find students with similar interests and build communities around specific educational goals. So.cl might even give students the ability to create their own social tool, customized for their own community.
So.cl makes it clear it is not trying to compete with already established sites like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, it wants its users to use So.cl as a complement to these existing tools.
“We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools,” reads part of the FAQ section of So.cl. “We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”
Image from www.so.cl.