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??
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.
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.
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.
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.