Microsoft is opening up a new social network. Called Socl, it is an ‘experiment in social search for students and learning’.
Having been an invitation only beta for around a year, Microsoft Socl (pronounced social) is now in open beta, According to a blog post from Microsoft Research the idea behind this experimental project is that people can use it to connect over shared interests “expressed through beautiful post collages”.
Microsoft doesn’t have a great track record in the social networking sector, and this latest experiment sounds worryingly like a product in search of a market.
The blog post says Microsoft has been “busy redesigning Socl to match how you’re using it”. The result is something that is attractive because of its simplicity but seems to lack substance. Currently new posts are being added at an impressive rate - but will the novelty wear off?
Socl started life as an experimental project from Microsoft’s FUSE (Future Social Experiences) Labs looking at how people can use social search to help them learn. Users can sign in with either a Microsoft Live or Facebook account, and either search for images that match a search phrase, or upload their own pictures. If you click on an image, you’re taken to the URL containing the original image. This might be a blog or an article on a website. It’s a bit like a combination of Facebook and Pinterest looked at from the point of view of a search. Behind the scenes this is based on Bing for the search, which (if Socl takes off) may be the route to developing add-ons for it.
The site is implemented in TypeScript, which, according to the blog post, gives the team the opportunity to code and experiment more quickly. As far as developers are concerned it may serve better as a proof of concept for TypeScript than as a serious contender in the social media arena.