As a fan of the ideas and tools of Microsoft FUSE Labs, I registered for an e-mail invitation to participate in the beta test for the new social network so.cl some time ago. Although I had not recieved an invitation, I was fortunately able to take a closer look to the platform two days ago, as I got an invitation from a friend via Facebook.
In order to use the social network, you have to log in by using a Facebook account. Then you will be taken to the welcome page, where the main functions and features are well explained.
Firstly, the layout reminded me the layout from Google+. But once interacting with the surface, I discovered many interesting and significant features that are not available in other social networks.
Unlike as on other platforms, the input boxes for searching and posting are not separated into two input fields but share the same input field. The selection which type of task has to be performed is done by clicking on one of the icons at the right side of the input field. The seach function is set as default; may be because FUSE Labs (had?) defined students as the primary target user group.
After a search is launched by entering the search terms and clicking on the “Search” button, the application switches to a corresponding view and lists both found text links and images. The „Everything“ filter option for the search results is then also automatically selected.
More filters allow to refine the search results and it is possible to define tags for the search results. The user defined tags are then listed on the left side, under the section “Tags”.
However, the most interesting feature here, is the implementation for sharing the seach results. The search can be published as a post on so.cl. And selected search result items can be attached to this post. It is also possible to change your search terms, perform a new search and then attach the new results to your post.
For writing posts to so.cl, you may click click on the comment icon right to the input field, enter your message and click on “Post”. A very nice feature is the possibility to change your privacy settings (arrow in the following screenshot) from “Public” to “Private” by just one click on the icon right to the input field.
Links in posts will be usually shortened. I noticed a small bug here: if a link is followed by one or more line breaks (for example when appending line breaks to a link in a text editor, copy and paste the content of the text editor to the input field), then the text <br></a> is appended to the shortened link and therefore does not work. By the way, if a bug is recognized by the application, you are redirected to special page with a nice beetle. If you find a bug, you can also report it to the FUSE Labs forum.
Like the search functions, the Feed can be filtered on a basis of predefined options. There are currently four options “Everyone”, “People I follow”, “My conversations” and “Me” available. I really like the option “My conversations”, which gives a quick overview of the posts in which I was involved.
And the same structure has been chosen for displaying the own activites; this can be done by clicking on your name on the upper rigth corner.
A useful feature is the possibility to edit own posts; for example to correct typing errors. Posts can be shared on Facebook or you can retrieve a link to your post. Please note, if you share a post from so.cl to Facebook and you then delete the post on so.cl, that the shared post on Facebook is not deleted.
An interesting feature is the possibility to include a post and its comments on your website by copying and pasting the embed code from so.cl to your webpage. This currently works for all public posts on so.cl. The embed code includes an i-frame which accesses the post on so.cl.
The last feature I would like to present, are the “video parties”, which allow to share and watch videos at the same time with other users. I tried it out with the flying penguins 🙂
By the way, your personal settings (for example for setup your e-mail notifications) can be reached on so.cl by clicking on your avatar right to your name and then select “Settings”.
My personal conclusion of this, surely, first impression: I like the currently implemented features; especially the search possibilities and that only a few clicks are necessary to get what you want. I am very curious about new features coming next year (hope so). Finally, I embedded a post from so.cl and at the end of this article listed some links.