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Up-And-Coming Social Media Sites: Hold Me, I’m So Cold

When Ophelia directed me towards Mashable’s “10 Websites to Watch in 2011” post, I was feeling pretty chipper. Then I scanned the social media-heavy list of up-and-comers and my skin started to crawl with the anticipation of yet another website I’d be expected to not just sign up for but actively splash around in like an eager toddler in a kiddie pool.

2006 was the last year that I had a comfortable relationship with social media. I had recently started college, Facebook was still a semi-novel and useful tool, and I made copious use of instant messenger services.  I was content with the amount of time I spent online, but, as now, I preferred face-to-face interaction and, failing that, telephone conversations.

Then everything changed. Facebook opened up to non-college students and added an insane number of apps for which I had practically no use (though I played Jetman obsessively for a week or so), and all of a sudden my friends got Flickr feeds and Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles and personal blogs scattered across WordPress and Blogger.

And that is not even including the relatively recent rise of Tumblr, which black abyss I’m about a microsecond away from getting sucked into.

So be warned that I’m giving you my take on these new(ish) social media sites from the perspective of a cranky, wary person who didn’t have access to the internet in her home until she was 14, got her personal email exposed in the recent Gawkerpocalypse, and whose brother hacked her private (ha, as if there is such a thing), high school Xanga and read its embarrassing contents to her whole family.

All that to say, I regard social media like I regard strange men who chat me up on public transportation–to a certain point I will tolerate you, even engage you in polite conversation, but the second you get weird I will threaten you with a very large knife.

So, let’s explore these new sites, shall we, hmmm??

1. Klout

Oh for the love, will someone please place a moratorium on ironically replacing C’s with K’s? It was mildly funny the first few times people did it with Kardashian posts, but now it makes me want to attack my computer with a flamethrower.

Anyway, you can sign up for Klout and allow it to access your Facebook and Twitter feeds (it doesn’t appear to assess any other media sites, as of now), whereafter it will crawl your profiles and award you a score from 1 to 100. Your score is based on how often you affect “action,” i.e., how many likes, replies, retweets, etc., your profile generates.

A score of 1 means you’re only friends with your Grandma on FB and she never even “likes” your statuses, while 100 means you’re Justin Bieber. Like, literally, I think.

For people who operate online businesses and blogs, Klout is a great tool to measure how effectively you’re using social media to promote your “brand.” But if you’re just an individual, I see no legitimate reason to check your Klout score except for a mixture of curiosity and arrogance.

I signed up (why yes, I am curious and arrogant!) but Klout takes up to 72 hours to finish assessing your status as a contributing member of the internet, so I haven’t heard back yet. If I get a score in the low teens I’ll be ecstatic.

2. Diaspora

So this might be Facebook’s big competition, the hook for which is that it’s open source and supposedly more careful with users’ private info than Facebook is (which is like claiming to be less Catholic than the Pope).

I’m skeptical, as always, but I like the idea that users upload their own information, including pictures and contact info, to a “seed”/private server, allowing the individual user to maintain ownership while still interacting with other users on the network.

I’m also a big fan of Diaspora’s “aspects” feature, which allows you to sort users into groups with specific privacy settings. Yeah, Facebook already lets you do this, but the way Diaspora is laid out–you determine your aspects when you first create your profile, then sort every user you add–is more intuitive.

Unfortunately, Diaspora isn’t 100% up and running yet. I clicked over and signed up for an invite, and was greeted with the following frustrating message:

In an earlier article, Mashable criticized Diaspora for being dead, activity-wise. Um…duh? Practically no one’s on it, so we can’t yet judge whether it will provide the same experience Facebook does.

For a lot of people, one major deterrent to using Diaspora will be that they’ve already built comprehensive Facebook profiles, and who wants the work of redoing all that? And Diaspora doesn’t currently offer the ability to import information from Facebook, but if it adds that feature, it might have a fighting chance.

3. Drupal

As Diaspora is to Facebook, so Drupal is to WordPress. I don’t know much about website-building, so I’ll quote Drupal’s main page here: “Use Drupal to build everything from personal blogs to enterprise applications. Thousands of add-on modules and designs let you build any site you can imagine.”

Someone please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t WordPress only enable one to build a blog (albeit a really shiny, interactive, glitter-excreting blog)? In contrast, Drupal has 118 installation profiles ready to download, giving users the bare bones to create a social networking site (why would you make your own?), a restaurant site, an online store, etc.

In addition to thousands of mods and themes, one of Drupal’s biggest draws is its community. Besides the traditional forums, Drupal provides online and in-person groups, meet-ups, and a “Marketplace” where users can seek out professional services to help develop their sites.

4. Foursquare

I have nothing to say about this piece of internet refuse. Nothing that isn’t ranty I mean.

Ok, let’s indulge in a mini-rant: Nobody cares that you were getting your skin burned at Tan Your Hide (which is a real franchise) at precisely 10:01 a.m. on Sunday, January 2. No one. Not your mom, not your partner, not your girlfriend, not your boyfriend, not your pets, not your religious adviser, not your boss, not your neighbor, not your mortal enemy. Not. A. Single. Effing. Soul.

Looking these sites over wasn’t was as bad as I thought it would be! Out of the four, I’m definitely most intrigued by Diaspora, since Klout is just an ego-massager and Foursquare is the spawn of Mel Gibson + Scott Baio and Drupal is beyond my ken entirely.

You guys really should check out the rest of Mashable’s article, because it lists 6 other sites which are intriguing to greater (Kickstarter, a philanthropic site where people can sign up for project funding) and lesser (Gilt Groupe, need I say more?) degrees.

6 replies on “Up-And-Coming Social Media Sites: Hold Me, I’m So Cold”

So in 2006 I don’t think I knew what social media was, although I did have a blog. As for Klout, you’re right, it matters if you have a business. Or if you are a personal blogger who likes to work with brands– it’s a way for brands to guess how well a relationship with a blogger may pan out.

As for Foursquare, I do play, mostly to compete with my friends as to whom has “mayorship” (most check-ins) at our favorite haunts. Stupid, but fun. Some local places offer discounts/ free stuff for either the mayor or just for checking in, and who doesn’t like free stuff? As for the stalkers…..I don’t push my Foursquare stuff to Twitter or Facebook. I also have a habit of checking into places as I’m leaving. It has helped me connect with friends at certain large, public events. 

I’m pretty sure I hadn’t come across the term in 2006 either-funny how it’s metastasized so quickly!

I feel like I was overly harsh about Foursquare. Like a lot of other sites (Twitter being one of the more egregious), the concept is not the problem at all, it’s just how certain obnoxious members use it. Also, I had no idea you could get discounts for signing in on Foursquare! I don’t have a smartphone though and I thought you needed one to sign in?

Anyway, here’s my Foursquare confession-when I was checking it out yesterday, I looked up my favorite local movie theater and saw the mayor had only 8 log-ins and I was like, “pshhhhh I could totally beat that if I tried.” If they gave out discounted tickets to the mayor, I would be sold.

WordPress is actually a CMS, just like Drupal, and it’s also open source.  WP a bit more user friendly, and it’s an easier platform to learn, I think.  Every guy I talked to about setting up Persephone said I should use Drupal to build it, but WP is just as robust.  /geeky

Sally J is the social media expert around here, I usually just play on Tumblr.  She sent me an email about Klout just the other day.  I don’t even want to know what my personal Klout is.  Or anyone else’s, really. 

I’ve read too much Sci-fi to use Foursquare.

Ahhh, thanks for clearing that up for me. I almost put an aside up there about how I didn’t care about Drupal because if this website ever moved there you would be the one doing all the work while I sat back and drank Diet Coke and twiddled my thumbs.

Also, LOL at your Foursquare comment. It is a little pre-Big Brother, isn’t it?

Foursquare disturbs me. I’m already kind of annoyed that my cellular provider and Google and pretty much every website can track my location as it is. Why would I need or want even MORE details to be disclosed? What’s even worse is that you can specify WHO you checked into a place with, so that you unnecessarily reveal not only your own info but that of your friends’ as well, if they weren’t careful enough to disable this feature by navigating through the myriad of pages in facebook privacy settings. (But that’s a rant for another day.)
I have to admit though, when I’m waiting on people to arrive or meeting up with them, I do wish they would all have Google latitude enabled. 

Yeah, I am right there with you. Obviously, I’m not a famous or important enough person to warrant close attention, but it bothers me that if someone wanted to track me down, they easily could. And I hatehatehate that Facebook ever allowed people to include their friends in those updates. I mean, really, did they not see that as a huge privacy shitstorm about to happen??

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