Microsoft Spindex Puts New Spin on Social Networking
By Tony Bradley
Microsoft’s FUSE Labs–the cutting edge, innovative research group behind the recent Docs.com announcement–unveiled yet another new project today at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Spindex is a new FUSE Labs project to help aggregate and streamline social streams to help you interact more efficiently.
Lili Cheng, general manager of Microsoft FUSE Labs, wrote in a blog post on The Official Microsoft Blog “One area we’ve been focused on lately is the personalization of social computing. As you increasingly tweet, post to Facebook, and capture ideas with tools like Evernote, we want to help you get the most out of your social activity by exposing the right information, at the right time, in a way that’s meaningful.”
As social networking has grown it has also become unwieldy and cumbersome. What began as a small clique of friends or family has spiraled out of control into hundreds or thousands of connections spanning multiple social network services. Spindex will enable you to connect to and consolidate information streams from Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, RSS feeds, and Bing–for starters.
To be fair, Microsoft is not the first to attempt such an aggregation of social networking. Tweetdeck, which is my default tool on my Windows 7 notebook, my iPhone, and my iPad for working with Twitter is also capable of connecting with and posting to Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn–providing a fairly comprehensive interface for managing social networks. Lifestream, from AOL, also provides one-stop shopping for social networks including all of the ones from Tweetdeck, as well as Digg, YouTube, Flickr, and more.
Spindex puts a unique spin on the concept, though, by providing personalized trending topics. The keywords and hot topics among your personal social network are much more relevant to you than what the world at large is following. In addition, Spindex proactively seeks out articles and information via Bing and provides you with links to dig deeper and learn more.
The Spindex site describes it “Make sense of your social overload, open your personalized Spindex page, and find out at a glance what topics are hot in your social world. You can also keep track of the things you are remembering via Evernote–right inside of your Spindex page. Spindex is not just a social reader–as you browse your friends’ updates, Spindex continually suggests related content from Bing–giving you better insight into the topics and trends spinning around you.”
FUSE Labs has also been behind some other recent Microsoft innovations such as Bing Twitter Maps, Docs.com, and Outlook Social Connectors. The Outlook Social Connectors concept is also aimed at engaging social networks more efficiently, but from an opposite perspective from Spindex. Where Spindex consolidates social streams into a single console, Outlook Social Connectors enable you to separate social streams by contact and quickly find message threads and status updates affiliated with a specific individual.
Spindex is currently available only as a CTP (community technology preview) for attendees of the Web 2.0 Expo. Stay tuned to FUSE Labs to find out when it will be available to the general public. I will be keeping my eyes open for an opportunity to play with this new tool.