Microsoft’s So.cl – Learning Based Social Networking
Targeted mainly for students, So.cl is a social networking experiment by Microsoft, first introduced in December. Now, So.cl is open to all users and interested site-members, although this latest offering from Microsoft is not designed to be an alternative for full-blown social networks like Facebook or Twitter. The site was officially opened last Monday, albeit with limited functionalities. On their website, So.cl is described to be a development project, centered on social search for educational purposes.
So.cl, pronounced as social, relies on Bing for its search experience, through Bing APIs that display search results. Searches done on So.cl are shared publicly by default, working under the premise that students usually search for the same topics and interests when they’re working together. Sharing results allows them to work more efficiently and also to discover new interests along the way. Through So.cl tools, these links are shared easily and quickly.
Not only does So.cl provide a venue for the easy sharing of searches, it also contains functionalities for creating “rich posts”, which are essentially an interesting mix of links and images that users can put together, by using certain So.cl features. The “video party” feature allows for the seamless sharing and viewing of movies by friends and also provides access for users to view other video parties shared publicly by So.cl members.
Originally planned as an invite-only experiment project, Microsoft decided to make So.cl available to everyone. A spokesperson for Microsoft sent an email to PCWorld on Monday, adding that the site is an “experimental research project focused on the future of social experiences and learning, especially among younger people.”
Signing up at So.cl may be done through an existing Facebook or Windows Live ID account, after which users will be taken to a page showing suggestions of general interests and who to follow. The Explore page shows more suggestions, and posting any content will have to pass through Bing. So.cl also allows interested users to make a profile, list their interests and finally create video parties.
While So.cl is available for everyone, it is more geared towards “learning communities” and designed with students in mind.