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22 May 2012

Microsoft unveils so.cl social network for learning

Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental By Rachel Hawkes

Microsoft launch so.cl social networkMicrosoft has unveiled its own social network called So.cl (pronounced social) that aims to help explore, “the possibilities of social search for the purposes of learning.”

Detailed on the So.cl website, Microsoft describes how the site can assist students:
- So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.
- So.cl helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.
- To encourage interaction and collaboration, So.cl provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via "video parties."


Microsoft says it fully expects users to continue using their existing social networks and search engines such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google and Microsoft’s own Bing.  Microsoft comment, “We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”

So.cl’s search is unsurprisingly powered by Bing, and by default searches done via So.cl will be publicly available, in move that the new network hope will encourage discovery and sharing.  They explain, “We see this trend today on many social networks, such as Twitter, where shared links spread virally and amplify popular content.” Search result will be web pages, images and / or videos.

In a move that is similar to popular image sharing site Pinterest, So.cl will allow users to create a rich post of images and links to share with their network in what it calls a Montage – which is an existing Microsoft web tool. A bookmarklet can be added to the users toolbar so they can share content on So.cl whilst continuing to navigate around the web.  See image below:

Image of a post from Microsoft so.cl social network

The similarity to other networks doesn’t end there, there is also a ‘video party’ feature that is of a similar offering to that of Google+’s Hangouts. “Students spend time sharing videos. So.cl extends this concept by making it easy to sare video with parties, with So.cl friends who are online. Video parties let you search, and quickly assemble a list of movies to view together with friends. You can view any existing party collection created by another So.cl user, or create your own.”

So.cl’s data is all available publicly, unless the user changes their own privacy settings. It also uses Facebook authentication, though it doesn’t automatically post content to the user’s Facebook page – they have to manually press the ‘Share’ button if they wish to do this.

So.cl was developed as an experimental research project by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs team, and it launches official partners including University of Washington, Sycracuse University and New York University.

Categories: Social media, News

Tags: Microsoft, so.cl, social, social network, Google, Google Plus, Google+, social search, Bing, education, learning

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