AOL goes further into Lifestreaming, Follows the trends, prepares for the future.

August 15th, 2008 by Avatar X Leave a reply »


Two weeks or so ago, no one would have thought of AOL as a company you would associate with lifestreaming. It was just after that Frank of SomeWhatFrank revealed in a tweet that he was using BuddyUpdates that the mention of Lifestreaming and AOL conjured an association. That association landed in Mark Krinsky head and off he went to write about it. Certain major blog ran with the story a little later without giving credit of that and then suddenly everyone knew about it.

Little we did know that that week would end with the news of AOL acquiring SocialThing! For a undisclosed amount (a rumored 1 million) as broke by Techcrunch. It was weird news because it almost seemed random of AOL to have acquired a Lifestreaming Service. That impression just lasted seconds to me because of the still very fresh impression of the BuddyUpdates lifestreaming Service for AIM.

BudddyUpdates is clearly a Lifestreaming Tool, but its focus and goal is only of relevance to AIM IM users up to this moment. It is more of a Funneling Service for Updates. It lacks a common ground in terms of being a Lifestreaming service. It is more of just a bridge.

That is because it may not be meant to be more than that. SocialThing is now the base of AOL lifestreaming services.

A Boulder based startup founded in 2007 and funded by Techstars , a startup incubator from Colorado started with a little hype and then the hype died down because it was a private beta and also because it was quite snobbish and it only worked right using firefox and downright blocked IE browsers from accessing the service. Even then, I have used it since I first got in because it solved a problem for me offering support to my favorite Nanoblogging (twitter) and Microblogging (pownce) service.

SocialThing is quite unique to others even if it is often compared erroneously to Friendfeed. Even if they don`t have anything alike in principle. Something SocialThing CEO rightfully agrees with me. There is a simple why on that:

Socialthing! Is a about cross posting, lifestream aggregation and service specific replying. There is no local reply in SocialThing, there are no rooms and there is not even an actual user profile. The replies are posted in the respective service you aggregate. SocialThing serves as bridge in the same way Posty, the AIR app from Cesare Rocchi, allows you to check your microblogging (or nanoblogging if you will) rivers, cross post and also do service specific replying to notes from your contacts.

Friendfeed aggregates but also centralizes interaction within friendfeed and it exists as a social hub with a accompanying user profile. You cannot cross post, or reply to the specific note in the specific service that is being aggregated in the same way you do in Socialthing!. So please stop comparing them. The only thing alike as a web service would be HelloTXT because you can cross post and view your respective service lifestreams without being able to reply directly.

So please, could all of those saying that it somehow competes with Friendfeed just knock it off?

I even had posted about it. First as a mention in a post about that caused a response from Ben Brightwell that gave me 25 invites and I have added quite significantly to that having invited over 100 people to the service up to now.

I criticized them for their lack of IE7 support that is pure nonsense for ANY web service that wants traction, coverage and goodwill. I did the same for their lack of badges and widgets. Something that has proven a popular tool and I would say now indispensable to any web service where it makes sense. A lifestreaming service sure fits the bill. Because of that and many details I have seen while using it. I do now come to the conclusion that a acquisition was their only way out because I really doubt it would have succeeded on its own given its extremely limited set of supported services and snobbish way of doing things so far.

I am being harsh? Of course I am. The reason for that is because I believe the tool is great and it got a great potential. Mathew Ingram said that he found it less useful because it didn`t steal away the conversation in the way Friendfeed does and because it is user centered instead of note centered like friendfeed. I disagree completely. Because for me the services are completely different as I already have stated above. I think some will also agree with me on that.

Now, a whole week after the news of AOL bought SocialThing! broke loose . The confirmation from Frank Gruber gave it new life again and finally cleared SocialThing to disclose it in public.

Now it is all about how AOL gets to integrate it with Bebo and Buddy Updates. What else they can do with the service is also still a big interrogation mark. I of course wish there is a Widget involved (please frank, it would be cool, pass it along) so I can get another chance to revisit Socialthing! here at Widgets Lab.

*Yes, yes, I know this is one of those unusual posts that somehow get into Widgets Lab even if there is not a Widget involved at all (at the moment) but at least I am not posting about big foot like Techcrunch….nope, I am not joking. They posted about big foot.*


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