Socialthing! First Impressions

What's this?

Socialthing! is a lifestreaming web application that lets you pull in updates/news from your profiles on lots of major social networking sites ranging from Twitter to Digg to Facebook, even Guitar Hero Community. AOL just bought it last week. No clue yet on what they intend to do with it.

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How does it work?

• Get an account (invite code 'CNET' working for the indefinite future), plug in usernames/passwords for all your social networking accounts. Socialthing! scans those friend networks and aggregates all the updates from those networks.

Yay!

• Great as a one-stop friend overview. If you have friends that only use Facebook, friends that only use Twitter, friends that only upload Flickr photos, you can see them all in one place. None of them need to have a Socialthing! account in order for you to do this.
• You can choose to group by friend or by timeline. The former is cool because it seems that people who are actually on Socialthing! will have all their various site updates in one box.
• Useful interface. Clicking on a friend's name creates a new tab just for their updates. Really great if Socialthing! has multiple types of updates for them. These tabs are saved each session - so if you've opened up multiple friend tabs, they'll be there when you revisit the site (unless you log out, or quit the application).

Boo!

• Timeline feature not that useful, since St! seems to update in blocks, meaning you'll see a ton of Facebook updates at once, and then a ton of Twitter updates.
• You'll only see people's updates if you're already friends with them on X social network. IE, if my buddy Sam has a Flickr account that mine is not 'friends' with, it won't show up in updates, no matter how good of friends we are on Facebook/Twitter.
• No 'profile' pages. Socialthing! seems like more of a personal tool than a "Check out all of my sites" tool. I can't show people my profile on Socialthing! where they can see all my services. In fact, it's kind of difficult to tell which of the friends in my timeline actually use Socialthing!
• Have to click an 'update' button in order to see new updates, even though it gives you a notification. Probably so that the view doesn't jump when you're reading something at the bottom, but it'd be nice to have an auto-update option.

FriendFeed Comparison

• Socialthing! pulls in all the friends you've already added on the separate networks. With Friendfeed, you have to manually find/add Friendfeed profiles -- so while I can read all Laurent Courtines' (AOL Games Community Manager) various feeds (including ones such as Google reader, which I don't currently use).
• Friendfeed lets you post updates from Friendfeed. Those updates can reside only on FF or can be propagated throughout Twitter and the like. Socialthing! only posts on behalf of your existing services. Which again shows the de-emphasis on having Socialthing! be at the center of your online persona, but is good if you don't want Twitter followers to miss out on an update.

So?

So it's interesting. I see more Facebook updates than I do on a regular basis. I'm still not a fan of FriendFeed (too much noise, too much clutter) but Socialthing! isn't quick enough on updating that I will switch over just now. It's great to have all your friends from your ten million networks automatically show up, but then again, I could just use XYZ external client or an RSS feed to accomplish pretty much the same. Hopefully AOL will do something great with it -- then we can hijack the service and use it on GameDaily. :) [I think I'm becoming a company gal... ]