Back in July, Microsoft made a mistake and gave us an accidental look on their secret project, Socl.com, codenamed Tulalip. Their probably brilliant mistake has turned into a full project as this week the company announced the launch of So.cl (socl.com redirects you to so.cl), which is a hybrid of social media meets project sharing meets learning network. The difference between this and Google Wave is that Microsoft has an idea of what they want to do and we're they're going with this new site.
Here is what it breaks down to: you can sign up, or log in with Facebook, and can begin searching for things for whatever you are working on using Bing, obviously. From there, your search history is shared with your friends you are connected with on Socl. You can then load up a Video Party where you and your friends can group chat as you watch a video clip you found online, however there is no ability to actually video chat. If still imagery is more your thing, you can make a slideshow of images you'd like to share with your friends, but you can't upload photos yourself. I think there will be some hefty add-ons made in the future, however that is what you have to start with.
For those thinking it's exactly like Facebook, you may be mistaken as you cannot create any content and nobody will be allowed to post pointless status updates. It may have a couple of useful design features taken out of their playbook, but I heard somewhere that good artists copy and great artists steal, so that should be okay. The good news here is that Microsoft knows that this isn't your next big social networking site, at least for now. This is definitely a way to share, work on and learn in a collaborative manner.
We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools. 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.
Microsoft says they've reached this conclusion based on how they've learned how students learn and work together.
As students work together, they often search for the same items, and discover new shared interests by sharing links. So.cl experiments with this concept by automatically sharing links as you search.
To cement that notion, they've partnered up with NYU, University of Washington and Syracuse University. However, anyone can join up in the FUSE Labs research community, which is where Microsoft is putting up some of the So.cl experiments.
What do you think about all of this? Check out their FAQ and the video below and tell us your thoughts in the comments section. Will this turn out to be like Facebook in the end of will Microsoft make this more of a social learning site rather than networking?